My neighbour “Dan” invited me to go to a men’s breakfast at a huge church in London yesterday. The building includes a theatre with inclined seating, a gym, a large windowed meeting room where we ate, washrooms with showers and other nooks and crannies that I didn’t get to explore.
We got there fifteen minutes early and the coffee was ready. Yay! I was sitting in the lobby slurping away when a fellow approached, extended his hand and said “Hi, Bruce.” His face was a blank to me. How in the name of Heaven did he know my name? Probably two minutes later, after he’d left, I looked down and saw a name tag stuck to my chest. “Oh.”
Dan and I sat at a table with friends of his. Everyone was congenial. No one talked about spirituality, and that was fine. At one point, I mentioned to the fellow next to me that I was going to a conference in North Carolina next week where we’ll be exploring consciousness. It’s a hard thing to explain. The best that I can do is to point towards an expansion of love, peace and freedom. The gentleman was polite but soon changed the subject. Again, I’m fine with that.
My spirituality as a Buddhist is different from the Christian fellows I was with. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just glad to be with folks who have a spiritual life, who see something bigger in life than the daily routines. A hundred or more men who are gathered for a Christian breakfast may differ in their willingness to talk about their faith but their simple presence yesterday morning says a lot.
Just as we were chowing down, a young man and his infant son joined us. A gentle soul, and so loving as he fed his boy. “Jason” works at a day care centre. I looked around the room and saw mostly older people (like me!) but there was a fair sprinkling of young adults, teens and kids. Cool, I thought. We gather together to learn from each other.
After the eats, it was time for the speaks. Guys who spoke Arabic, Spanish and I believe Chinese each had their own meeting room, so they could hear the presentations in their own language. It wasn’t separation … it was consideration.
In the English-speaking room, five men participated in a panel discussion. The moderator had questions ready. My favourite was “When you look back on your life, is there anything you regret?” One speaker, probably in his 70’s, looked around the room and found the young ones. “I regret not being brave enough to tell my friends what was important to me, especially things that they’d likely see differently. I just wanted to fit in, and I lost some of me in the process.” Wow. Well said. I pray that a seed was planted through his words.
So … the morning was not always my way, but it was a truly fine way. Thanks, guys.