A chat with a curious elderly man

This was an interesting happening today. I was at work ringing the register at Panera Bread where I work part time. Unbeknownst to me, a gentleman was listening to a conversation I was having with my current guest at my register. We were discussing the movie The Shack. I was sharing with my female guest that if she loved spiritual movies that she should definitely see this movie. I told her that I had not been moved so much by a movie in many years. She told me that she planned to see it on Tuesday and by this point in the conversation, we were wrapping up the transaction. I didn’t realize the man’s interest in me until later on when I was sitting down in the dining room for my break.

The man approached me from the side, apologized for interrupting my break and asked me if he could ask me a couple of  questions. I had this feeling that he was maybe subtly going to try to recruit me to church because he just had that vibe, ya know? Curious but almost a little too interested?? I don’t know how to explain it. I will just post the conversation as I remember it. It’s just easier, so here goes.

H=Him  M=Me

H: “Hi there, Missy. I don’t want to take up much time because I see you’re on your break, but would you care if I ask you a question or two about what you said up at the register?”

M:  “Oh no, I don’t mind! I’m fine! Sure, what did you want to ask?”

H:  “Up there at the register you said you were spiritual. I was just wondering if you would mind explaining that to me? You said you don’t go to church. How do describe spiritual then?”

M:  “When I was growing up, my mom always believed in a loving God, but also a wrathful God. That never sat right with me. I couldn’t understand how God was supposed to love us unconditionally, but he would punish us for making mistakes or bad choices. There were so many rules involved. You had to do certain things in order for God to love you? That didn’t sound like unconditional love to me. Now not to pick on Catholic folks, but all the sacrifices they make for lent, I don’t believe that’s necessary. I don’t think that you have to act in a certain way or eat certain things in order for God to love you.”

I went on to tell him what I loved about the movie The Shack.

M:  “That’s why I would encourage people to see the movie The Shack. It spoke into a lot of what I am talking about. It’s about a man who has to learn to forgive someone that murdered his young daughter. Society has conditioned us to hate murderers. I honestly believe similarly to what the movie portrays. I believe these were good people that were abused or mistreated by other people. Maybe they even grew up thinking that murdering was okay to do because their parents did it. We don’t if it was learned behavior or if it was a trauma, but I don’t think most people want to be evil.  How can we not forgive someone like that? Someone who needs love even more than the rest of us because he never received any in the first place?”

He seemed intrigued by my statements and wanted to continue chatting and I was more than happy to oblige.

H:  “I just have one question for you now, Missy. Where does Jesus come in to all of this for you?”

This was when he seemed more curious than ever about what my reply would be. I barely waited for him to finish his sentence before I began to answer.

M:  “Well, I see Jesus being exactly what we are. A child of God. A physical manifestation of God. I believe we are way more a spiritual being than we are a physical being by far. We have only been taught to see things in black and white. One way or the other. That leaves us with a lot of unexplained grey area in between. I believe we are capable of the same sorts of things that Jesus was.”

This must have thrown him for a loop because his brows dipped as he dropped the next question right on the heels of the last statement that I made.

H:  “So you mean like a deity??!!??”

His eyes wide and waiting my reply. Without hesitation,

M:  “Now I wouldn’t use that word. Using a word that strong makes people really uncomfortable. But I do believe that with an open mind and some science to back it up, human beings are capable of much more than we have been told. We were created in God’s image weren’t we? If that’s the case then what if, just open your mind here for a minute. What if we are all quantum pieces of the creator that have manifested here to have an experience? What if we are all parts of the same creator?”

I really think this last statement about flipped his lid. He seemed overcome and he didn’t quite know how to process it all. He thanked me for my time and apologized for taking up so much of my break. I told him that I would be more than happy to chat with him because I loved that people could have an open conversation about their beliefs. I was glad that we could bring things to the table like we did.

I wonder. I just wonder if he will go to bed and ponder some of what I said to him today? I wonder if he will share my thoughts with other members of the congregation at his church? Who knows what ripple effects that 5-10 minutes conversation will have! I am so grateful that I was able to open up and share my beliefs with someone of his age! I am grateful that he did not just close himself down and walk away mad. He had to be in his late 70’s.

Never let fear draw boundaries for you. You never know when you can change someone’s life with just a few words. Maybe he needed to forgive someone he had never thought of forgiving before. Maybe he needed a fresh idea to read into. You never know. I do know one thing. It felt good to say it all out loud. I owned every little drop of myself today. And proudly.




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