By: Amy Wise
Religion is a recurring theme in my life. Just the other day I was in Starbucks, anxiously awaiting my caramel frappaccino, when a very attractive black man in a suit came up to me and said, “Do you practice?” I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, and at first I thought he was asking if I was a practicing attorney because this particular Starbucks is on the bottom floor of a law firm. He clearly saw the puzzled look on my face and pointed to my bracelet, and said, “Is that just an accessory or do you practice?” Ohhhh! I finally got it. My bracelet had Buddhas on it and he wanted to know if I was a practicing Buddhist. I thought about it for a second and wondered if I should give this complete stranger my true beliefs on religion, or the quick and easy answer, which would have been, “I’m a Christian.” The easy answer, however, just does not cover the full story of how I feel about religion. I’m a Christian, but there is so much more to it than that. I decided to be open and give him the “more”. I said, “No I’m not a Buddhist, but I’m a very out-of-the-box Christian, open to all religions. I practice bits and pieces of many religions, including Buddhism, because in the end don’t we all want the same thing from whatever religion it is that we practice?” He looked at me, smiled, took my hand in both of his hands, and said, “Thank you, that’s exactly how I feel and I’m so very happy to meet you!” In that moment, two strangers understood that if we all open our minds and hearts to each other, the world would be a much more peaceful place. It was a pretty cool moment.
A few days after that, my sister and I were talking and she told me that she loved the fact that my friends were from so many different backgrounds, ages, and religions. She was so right! My friends are a “we are the world gumbo”. I have friends that are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Atheist, Goddess, Universe, and I’m sure I’m missing something, but you get the idea. I love them all. I respect them all. I’m thankful that they are all in my life. Period.
As a child I was raised as a Lutheran, and I even taught Sunday school, but as I got older I held on to some beliefs and let go of others, while opening my mind to so many more. Being in an interracial marriage automatically frees your mind. How could it not? We are living a life that is not the norm, but it’s a life filled with love, so why would a religion that is not “my norm” be any different?
Religion to me is now all about faith, peace, love, kindness, caring and giving. I pray to Jesus. I meditate to Buddha. I talk to God. I look to the Universe. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned! So when someone asks me what my religion is, I have to ask, “Do you really want to know?” If the answer is yes, well then, I’m an out-of-the-box Christian…and so much more!