I was crying again and trying not to show it. It had been a difficult day. So, I made my way to the college cafeteria, where I suspected that I could cry without anyone gawking at me.
I was lucky. There was only one other student in there and the staff. I composed myself, got my food, and plundered over to a table. I was mid – bite when my boyfriend called. During our conversation I mentioned British author C.S. Lewis. He’s no longer living but he made a great impact on the Christian faith with writings such as Chronicles of Narnia, A Grief Observed, and The Screwtape Letters.
It was that last book that I had mentioned to my boyfriend. At the name of the work, the student sitting at a table near me pulled a book out of his backpack. He waved it around with a big grin on his face. It was The Screwtape Letters. I smiled at this, but I confess, I wasn’t really in the mood for a discussion about faith. My own faith had been in shambles for months. I was struggling with doubt and didn’t want to be reminded of where I was lacking.
I guess God had a different plan for my lunch.
My boyfriend and I ended our call. I was halfway through my baked spaghetti when the student eased over to my table.
“Can I sit?” He asked.
He was munching and apple, so I offered some small talk.
“You’re reading The Screwtape Letters; what church do you go to?”
“Oh, I’m not a Christian. I’m Hindu,” he corrected over crunching apple.
“Sorry; I just assumed . . .”
“Because I was reading Christian literature? Nah, don’t be.”
“So, what do you believe?” I asked and continued, “Though, it would take me ages to answer this question,” I paused and added, “That might also be because I don’t know anymore. There’s so many contradictions. It‘s to the point that God seems more like a vengeful being — than a loving Savior.”
I thought — why did I admit that I didn’t have my faith all sorted? The guy smiled at me in a spirit of kindness that I hadn’t expected.
“I believe that God is in everything. I believe that in life we are here to know God and each other. I believe that the worst thing I could do would be to cause harm to the world and people around me — it would be like desecration.”
At first I was defensive, “Okay, I can see how God is in people, but” I patted the table, “I cannot see how God is in this table. It’s almost like you’re saying the table is God.”
“No, the table isn’t God. We are not God, but what is the table made of? It’s matter, which only looks solid. It is held together by forces that God created and set in motion. And, the same “stuff” that is in this table is the same “stuff” that is in you. By this, everything may not be “Holy or Divine”, but everything is sacred because God’s fingerprints are all over it. Hence, God is always with us — we are never alone. Everything is worth respect and love — even the dirty, downtrodden, and broken. I believe God wanted me to tell you that today.”
I was floored. As a Christian I was used to witnessing to ‘nonbelievers’, but I’d rarely ever been witnessed to. Also, I was astounded at how close our faiths were. How had he known, a devout Hindu, that in my heart of hearts, I had been pleading all day for some sign that God was with me. I thanked the young man, but before he turned to leave, I met his joyous eyes. And, I thought for a split second that I’d glimpsed the reflection of my Savior in them.
No, I wasn’t alone. My spirit and heart were lighter. This stranger of a different faith had been right. We had been dining with the Divine on sacred ground. This, I believe without a doubt.