This morning a minivan descended down the creek bed where we live, which was strange. Cars we don’t know don’t use our road. It was even stranger when it stopped in our driveway. We weren’t expecting anyone. When two men in suits and perfect hair opened their doors and stepped out, I muttered, “Christians.”
My partner responded, “Get rid of them.”
I met them halfway down the drive.
They smiled and both opened their Bibles to give me a sermon right on my own property.
I held up my hands. “Hey, I really appreciate your coming, but we’re Buddhist, and….” I let them complete the statement.
The elder of the two looked straight ahead, searching for some way to navigate this.
They closed their Bibles.
The elder was still searching, his eyes straight ahead.
The younger of the two looked surprised. “There aren’t many Buddhists around here.”
“I’m learning that,” I responded. “Where’s your church?”
They told me. The younger said, “You should come. We welcome everyone, Buddhist and all.”
I thanked them again for coming, and thankfully they left.
I was glad that we each left the interaction happily.
We’re not committed Buddhists, but we are frequently Buddhist in practice. We are Taoist, which is more difficult to explain. My partner is also Agnostic and to only add to the complexity, I am a Quaker as well, which is even more difficult to explain concurrently with Taoism. Throw in my leanings toward traditional Native ceremony and the mix becomes so convoluted that I struggle to navigate let alone explain it.
This morning, however, I found to be distinctly Buddhist. We did not exist at all in the context of feud and feudalism that I find too often characterizes Western Evangelical Christianity. We found ourselves to be outside the known categories. We were neither a different denomination nor faithless. We have faith, just not theirs. And I found myself surprisingly humbled by the elder’s inability to respond to this. I had only been trying to get rid of them, not prompt his existential crisis.
I walked away from them warmed by thankfulness, and I hope they did as well. Rather than fired up by a seething bitterness from some antagonistic confrontation, we found ourselves to be in a context in which neither was able to tell the other that he was wrong. It’s always a good day when you can say that. So…