I was at a wine tasting event and we had just started tasting the whites. I was on my third tasting of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlboro region. It was crisp, light, refreshing, with hints of wild grass, grapefruit and sunflowers. I was writing down my wine notes, which consisted of a happy face if I liked it and a sad face if I didn’t. My scoring may not be up to the standards of Wine Spectator, but hey, at least I was going to be able to understand them at the end of the evening!
A woman came over and asked, “you are a Minister?” I did a Homer Simpson to myself, “D’oh!” “Yes” I said. She had to first preface our conversation that she was “spiritual not religious”. I assured her I left my snake handling stuff in the car. Now that that was out of the way, she took a sip of a wine and asked me “What is the difference between a Baptist and a Presbyterian?” I was waiting for a punch line. None came. So I asked, “Are you a Baptist?” “No,” she said, and then went on to say how she didn’t like Baptists.
I didn’t ask what the Baptists ever did to her. I was about 45 seconds into my answer, and I could see by her eyes that she was hearing, “Blah blah blah.” I was just getting warmed up when she cut me off and said, “Thank you,” then moved on to taste a Pinot Grigio from Italy with hints of mint, celery and wild mustard.
So alas, she had asked a spiritual and a religious question, but was not interested in sticking around for an answer, or at least my answer.
Marin is a place where things religious and spiritual are of great interest. “Spirituality” has become a type of buzzword. We see manifestations of spirituality everywhere, from the workplace, collage campus, to the yoga studio.
I believe one way of talking with people who identify themselves as spiritual not religious and have little to no background, experience or practice in either, is before I open my mouth, I need to listen.
As a minister I spend much of my time in the spiritual and religious deep-end. If spirituality is like a swimming pool, then getting wet is required. Not everyone has to jump in the deep-end. We first start by sticking our toe in, then our foot, then we run back, then next time we are up to our knees.
Spirituality when we allow ourselves to truly live into the depth of its meaning is the longing for Transcendence and Intimacy. As a minister I appreciate and recognize both as essential qualities in faith. Transcendence is believing that life extends beyond ourselves, beyond how much money we make, or what people think of us, or that our teenage kids are embarrassed by the fact that we exist.
Intimacy is a core belief that deep within me, lives an essence that not even pollsters or advertisers can reach. Spirituality recognizes the link between the two.
The depth of spiritual expression within our religious life is the opening of our life to the beyond and a hunger from the within. Spiritual depth expressed in our religious traditions at the heart of it is about Transcendence and Intimacy. Growing in our faith isn’t about making our life a little bit better; it is the audacious belief that God can make us anew!
May it be so for you and for me.
Tue, April 10, 2012
by Rev. Dan