His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally is wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church is completely packed, and he can’t find a seat. By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and, when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!)
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, an Elder is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the Elder is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor? It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane.
All eyes are focused on him. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the Elder does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won’t be alone.
Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control, he says, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible, or Torah, or Quran some people will ever read.”
NB: Increasingly, many people feel that religion and spirituality are mutually exclusive. Religion is often seen as divisive, often pitting one interpretation (or distortion) of sacred texts against the other. Some see religion as organizations that put more emphasis on dogmas, rules, and behaviors than on developing a personal relationship with the Divine. Spirituality, on the other hand, is seen as a search for the Divine that is individual and extends to all facets of our lives and unites travelers on that path.
In a recent blog, Pierre Pradervand wrote this statement about the meaning of spirituality: ” Four words: DO EVERYTHING WITH LOVE. Think with love, speak with love, act with compassion in a spirit of service, feel only love, and see all through the eyes of love. This provides such a simple criterion for cutting to the core of our many daily choices/decisions: will it help me love better? ”
As the Elder showed, one does not necessarily exclude the other.
May we all be so busy blessing and loving that we will not have any time for judging or criticizing!