I had breakfast with a local pastor this morning at the Belmont Diner. I’ll call him Peter. Due to the heavy snow falling, he was a half-hour late. As I sat at the counter waiting for him, and engaging in conversation about the weather and (less convincingly) about the placement of garages, I felt into the sense of loss I was experiencing. “If he doesn’t show, how will I get to see him again? I don’t have any contact information. And then who will I talk to locally about spiritual matters?”
On the retreat last fall, we were encouraged to classify our present moments as “pleasant, unpleasant or neutral”. This was unpleasant. Then we’d be asked to see what feelings were present. This morning it was sadness and fear. And then the experience of “OK-ness” washed over me. I didn’t need Peter to show up. Confidence came … that the universe would create spiritual discussions for me. Peace was here. And I continued on with my bacon and eggs.
The Diner door opens and in walks Peter! I was happy. Thank you, dear universe. He had loads of questions about the retreat, starting with what the daily schedule was like (wakeup bell at 4:50!) I talked about the Buddha’s focus on the present moment, on his insistence that certain types of suffering were always going to be with us (such as sporadic physical pain), but other forms of it were optional. Mr. Buddha said that craving people and things was the source of that second type. Peter smiled and expressed his sense of relationship with the Divine, in the form of Jesus.
I marvelled at what was happening. There was no judgment from either of us. And no sense of contraction that I could feel, even as we revealed our differences. Four or five folks sat near us at the horseshoe-shaped lunch counter. Some, maybe all of them, were listening. I told Peter that occasionally in Belmont I’m brave enough to venture into spirituality in conversation. Often people change the topic quickly, but sometimes not. “A lot of folks think I’m weird, Peter.” His response? “Welcome to my world!” I love it.
To expand my range of spiritual contacts, I’ve decided to rejoin a meditation group in London, usually about a 40 minute drive away. Their first meeting after Christmas is tonight but the snow continues to fall. Travel is not recommended. But it doesn’t matter if that reunion happens tonight. I’m drawn to it.
Peter and I arranged to talk again next Monday. Who knows what epiphanies might arise? Or maybe not. But we will connect in a way that transcends the rational mind.