Because in some circles, following Jesus and calling myself the big "C" word is so not cool. I'm from the "quiet in the land" Mennonite clan, where we preach the gospel through our actions and if necessary, use words.
As I shopped for craft supplies the other day, I realized that Christianity isn't even dollar store cool anymore. Plastic nightlight Jesus has been replaced with fake stone garden Buddha. Sad skinny bleeding half-naked man on a plastic cross, nails in feet has been replaced with chubby jolly half-naked man, coins at his feet.
I'm not knocking Buddhism here - not at all. There are many profound things I've learned from this faith. And I see why Buddha is more appealing for garden decor than Jesus. I guess what I'm looking for is for it to be OK (even cool?) for people to talk about faith in general - even if it happens to be of the Christian variety.
There are some places where we're just not encouraged to talk about faith. Like at public schools. Or in government. Or when we meet our neighbours on the street. Or at a neighbourhood barbeque. Or at the dollar store selling faith trinkets. Or until we know people really, really, really well.
And I wonder why. These are the questions I love. I love to be a detective of faith, looking for little clues and snippets of God. I find that especially with new friendships it takes months, sometimes years, before questions of faith arise. But this is even true with some people that I've known for years. How do we broach these topics?
Sometimes the closest I get to a conversation about faith/spirituality is this:
You: I do yoga. I love it.
Me: Ya, me too. Very relaxing.
You: I find God in nature.
Me: Ya, me too.
Yoga and nature are great, and they're part of the whole spirituality package for me. But there's something about the human interaction element of spirituality that I find I need. I need people to push me on - a community to support me, nurture me, and question me. I need to see glimpses of God in others to inspire me. I need inspiring ideas and words to hold onto. I need others - in addition to my personal practices of yoga or prayer or meditation. I need to be part of something bigger than myself.
And so maybe these dollar store trinkets are a good thing. If I saw one in your garden, perhaps it would open up a conversation about faith. Perhaps they are little things for us to hold onto that remind us that we are spiritual beings.
If I could get up the courage, these are the questions I'd ask you:
- Where do you see God in your everyday life?
- Who are the people you talk to about faith?
- How can I remember you in my thoughts and prayers right now? What are your hurts, struggles, questions?
- How can we help each other down this road called life - to live with courage and meaning and depth and joy?
P.S. I do like to have conversations about other not-so-serious things too, like lilacs in the spring, flavours of ice cream, bubble tea mixtures, thrift store purchases, garage sale finds, and travel stories. So don't worry - I won't pester you with the heavy questions every time we meet.