More and more, I notice conscious conversations cropping up in less-than-formal settings. A simple “hello” becomes a talk about what’s happening in the world. An innocent “take care” morphs into a conversation about excellent ways to stay mentally and physically balanced.
While in a department store at Yonge and Bloor here in Toronto, two conversations about spirituality and religion came up completely independent of one another.
First, in the fifth floor restaurant, I ordered breakfast, asking R. to omit the bacon because I’d already eaten some bacon this week. R. asked if it’s because of Lent to which I replied, “No, I don’t observe that anymore.” “How come?” inquired R. as she scrambled the eggs. “Because I no longer consider myself a practising christian, although I do consider myself a practising spiritual person,” was my reply. R. then said, “My brother and sister-in-law go to the United Church, but I wish they’d come to my church instead.” My response was, “Well, we all have our own path to spirit and I think that’s beautiful.” And R. said, “Yeah…but…if they’d only come once they’d see…” And so on until I had a yummy breakfast handed to me with early happy Easter greetings.
Next, in the men’s accessories department, I walked over to S.’s cash register to pay a bill and greeted him. S. greeted me back with a huge smile, so I asked, “What’s making you so happy today, S.?” He replied, “This morning I got up happy and said thanks to God. Then I went on my computer and got the Buddhist thought for the day, even though I’m officially Catholic, and the thought for the day was inspiring.” “I think that’s so great, S., that you honour the different religions,” I chimed. He said, “Yes, there’s something of value in every one of them, and something hard about every one of them.” I came back with, “When you think about it, whether a person is buddhist, muslim, christian, jewish, sikh, pagan, or whatever, the basic message seems to be ‘BE KIND’.” S. nodded, smiling even wider as he shared, “I teach my kids that our Sri Lankan culture, Canadian culture, and every culture in the world has beauty and to do no harm to anyone or to creation.” And so on.
What I heard in this shopping venue “circle” were two different perspectives. One of the points of view is that others should be more like oneself rather than practice something else. There was an element of fear in the tone of it. The other point of view advocated embracing the best of as many practices as possible. There was great spaciousness in this. Having said that, both people are very friendly and they’re helpful in their professional roles. Our in-store council invites me to be aware of when I might be in “conversion to my worldview” mode and when I’m embracing the best that everyone is. Be kind. Not a bad message to pick up in a department store. Blessed Be.
What are the unexpected council containers in your experience, friend? Where do the surpising conversations that matter take place?