Yesterday, Tina and I worked downtown Chicago to photograph two different showrooms gearing up for a trade show next week.
Tina was forced to leave our second shoot early due to a medical situation, so I finished the job and took an Uber home. Her tooth cracked while we were at lunch. She was able to get a last-minute appointment with our dentist.
After I finished the second space, I headed out and called an Uber. My Uber driver’s name was Kim. When she pulled up in her blue Ford Escape, we exchanged the Uber etiquette hellos, I’m so and so and thanks for picking me up. When I saw she wasn’t masked, I asked to remove mine.
“Thank you for being considerate. I truly appreciate it,” she said.
When I asked her how she was, she led with how she’s been examining her spirituality and her spiritual journey.
“How did you go about examining your spiritual journey?” I asked.
She explained that she went to a seminar. She told me how her siblings and her were raised in the home of a baptist reverend. But her brothers and sisters left the faith of their father for what she said was Christianity*, Islam or other religions. She found herself confused. “Why should I stay within or go away from the culture I was brought up in?”
*I’ve found more than one person in Chicago who view Christianity as another religion even if the person identifies as, say, Catholic or Baptist. Christianity is, for all intents and purposes, something altogether different when viewed through the lens of some people’s cultural identities, because some versions of it are so far flung culturally that it appears altogether different to them.
Her siblings all seemed at peace in their journeys. She felt malaise. Like maybe she needed to find something else, too.
She talked bout how at work, one of her co-workers is an atheist. And when her other co-worker says things like, “Oh, thank God,” the atheist responds with words that are disparaging toward Christianity. “I believe in Spiderman,” he’ll say. “I just saw him yesterday in a movie. When was the last time you saw your God?”
The woman she works with reels with anger when he says stuff like that. My Uber Driver says she confronts her and asks her why she gets so upset. She says the guy is mocking her. But my Uber driver explains, “No, it’s not your job to doubt God. He’s bigger than that. You know it. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.”
I choked up a bit. I love that. I think about this aspect of Christianity often. That if your God is so big, then why is he off limits to criticize, for one. But how is that it’s so difficult for Christians to hear it? If God is who he is made out to be, no amount of criticism should be considered too much.
But here I go in my every day life unwilling, unnerved, uneasy about giving it to anyone who claims the invisible is true, frankly because I think it would hurt their feelings.
I have different beliefs than my family and many friends. Probably most friends. And they have little visible hesitation to pray in front of me or to echo their feelings about God. I realize there’s a little apprehension, but on a scale of what I consider to be uncomfortable topics, I’m mute and they’re foghorns.
That’s the way I see it. Perhaps they hear my absence of spiritual speak and think, “He’s pushing his beliefs on me.” Who knows.
Kim later explained that she identified that she was secure and full with her Baptist beliefs. And that that’s where she felt most at home. She also told me how she found her home church by visiting a series of churches. The first one, Satan was on the ceiling bored. The second, Satan was on the ceiling, twitching a finger tapping it on his forehead. The third, Satan was all jittery and couldn’t sit down. “That’s how I knew it was the right one. If Satan can’t keep still, that means that church is doing something right.”
We can’t all have the same views. And I hope she was speaking in metaphor, but maybe she really knows that Satan floats on church ceilings.
Before I got out of the car, I told Kim how much I needed her in my life yesterday. That it was a grounding moment and that I wished more people pursued spirituality as she does. She got a little teary. She thanked me. I closed the door to her Ford Escape. And I smiled the whole way home.