Today two people of a certain religious persuasion came to my door. I saw in it an opportunity to be converted. Not to be converted to another religion, which is what they had hoped, but to be converted from "being right" and "having my say" to welcoming humanity to my doorstep. Their comments began like this:
"We'd like to tell you..."
"You might be interested in..."
"This article here says that..."
Many years ago, I used to engage folks like this in conversational warfare, pinpointing differences between our faiths and arguing my stance, in order to "save them from the error of their ways." No longer.
Maybe, today, it was the reminder from Laura Swan that helped me to respond the way I did. Laura Swan, prioress of Saint Placid Priory in Lacey, Washington, spoke Saturday at Contemplative Outreach. "You should sometimes read things you don't agree with," she said, "to practice hearing other points of view."
And so I decided to listen to these two women without trying to formulate a single comeback or argument. My thoughts went like this...
Look at the woman. Listen to where she is coming from. This faith means so much to her. Where has she been in her life? Look at her partner. See the tiredness in both of their eyes. See how desperately they want to do what's right.
When they left I said "Thank you," and they said, "Thank you," and I could hear the softness and relief in their voices at this strange thing that had happened, at this peace at how their words were heard, as they smiled and went on their way.