“I don’t need religion, I’m spiritual.” Robin was sitting in Barnes and Noble talking a little bit too loud to a younger lady standing next to her. They just finished listening to an author speak about his new book. The book talk did what all good ones are supposed to; it provided ideas for thought provoking conversation.
Being spiritual not religious is Robin’s big idea. Actually, it’s the foundation for her faith, and a life long mantra. She’s so sure she’s on the right track with her religion-less spirituality, that she’s like the doomsday street preacher, stopping strangers to evangelize. Surprisingly, Robin is rarely challenged on her beliefs. But that one Thursday morning, she picked a different kind of stranger to evangelize. The younger lady from the bookstore is a deeply religious woman who has a spiritual agenda of her own. Game on!
The first volley to Robin’s serve was an invitation to coffee. “How interesting! Let’s sit and discuss.” The re-evangelizer gained the advantage, when she created a safe and comfortable space to talk about God and religion. Over two mocha lattes and one red velvet cupcake split between them, Robin trotted out her decades old reasons on why religion is irrelevant. Her discussion partner listened fully.
Her response did not include any of the usual religious key words like Jesus, born again, or sin. With head nodding in agreement, she simply asked Robin a couple of questions: “How’s it working out for you? Does it ever get lonely ‘going rogue?’” She hit a tender spot. The tears began to flow and years of pent-up frustration were released at the table in the corner in the café at Barnes and Noble.
The coffee break turned out to be a short one. Robin’s new lady friend invited her to come to a study group at her church on the upcoming Wednesday. It would be a gentle transition to a community of forward thinking people who welcome and embrace the faithful, even if they are not of like-minds religiously.
Praying together, doing good works together, and being spiritual among friends is a very compelling offer for someone who is spiritual not religious. No game was won that day. God is not really much of a competitor anyway. He simply arranged for a spiritual loner to find what she didn’t even know she was looking for: community.