I admit it. To me it's no big deal. Every time I give a lecture, I always say a prayer before I begin. I take what I do seriously and even though I use humour as part of the lecture, there is a real seriousness to the task. Prayer helps center me and reminds me that I am a very small part of a much bigger whole. And, too, I pray because I believe. In prayer. In God. So there.
A couple of months ago a woman came at break and told me that she had noticed me bow my head before the presentation started. Then she asked if I was 'centering' or 'praying'. I didn't think it was any of her business but I am not ashamed of my need for prayer so I answered that I took that time to pray and through that I became centered.
Whew, boy did she take that whole thing wrong. I got a wee bit of a lecture about how faith had screwed up pretty much every aspect of life in the world as she knew it. She recited much of what I knew regarding faith and disability and how the Christian church in particular had much to answer for regarding the view of disability as sin.
For someone who was clearly opposed to preaching, she sure was good at it. I listened as politely as I could and then told her that I respected her point of view, I even agreed with much of it, but that was as far as it went. I believe in the power of prayer and I also believe in her right to disagree. But that wasn't good enough, her tirade was becoming akin to harrassment.
What happened to respecting difference and respecting differing opinions. I would think that we, who work with a diverse population, would be better at diversity. At daring to allow others to be who they are and think what they wish. We, who work with the vulnerable, need to be on guard so that we don't impose our will or our wishes on others. I know it's wishful thinking but I think the people who work in care providing should be the most tolerant, gentle, open minded people alive. We should know the boundary between ourselves and others - and we should respect those boundaries. We may believe that eating cheese is a mortal sin but be willing, even happy, even privileged to make grilled cheese sandwiches for those who believe otherwise.
I had to break into her monologue because I had to get back to the lecture and, frankly, because I was tired of it. She was about to stomp away still angry. I couldn't help it.
I said, "I'll pray for you."
She didn't find that funny.