My neighbours invited me to a London church, to eat good food and hear a gospel concert. I said “Sure.” I like eating and singing along.
I’m not a Christian. I’m a Buddhist. But Gospel’s just fine. I tapped my toes to a group from London who had their beginning forty-eight years ago! Then it was the turn of a family from North Carolina – mom, dad, two sons and a friend. They gave ‘er too.
I heard songs like “I’m Going Home With Jesus”, sung with passion. Throughout, the faces onstage were alight with joy, and love as they looked at each other. Very cool. In the audience, some folks raised their arms in blissful devotion. A few swayed in their seats. And most of us blasted out the fast songs we knew. A mom held her tiny daughter on her lap, the two of them moving and grooving.
The small voice residing in my head said “This is not you, Bruce.” But the big one countered with “Yes it is.” It didn’t matter that Baptist worship wasn’t my spiritual expression. It was Spirit. I don’t worship God. Nor do I see Jesus as my personal savior. But I saw the light in those faces, both in front of me and beside, and it was the real deal.
I don’t see Buddhism as a religion, although some say it is. To me, it’s a philosophy, a way of life. Mr. Buddha was a smart guy who happened to hang out 2600 years ago. He had some fine ideas about leading a life. I feel at home when I’m on a retreat.
I don’t compare one religious expression to another. I figure that opening to a depth of love and peace is a fine thing for all of us to do. To look over there and see God in the other’s eyes. To move beyond “I’m better than you” and “I don’t care about you” and “More, better and different”. Just let the present moment in and be good to those around me. Yay for religion. Yay for Spirit.