So, I am sitting in Earl’s restaurant today.  The server is a 20 something woman.  Incredibly energetic, friendly, lively and competent.  She had the ability to be both present yet non-invasive at the same time.  (Does that make sense?).  The food was excellent but the service was spectacular.  So, at the end of our time together we engaged in my research questions–(remember, I am doing research on spirituality amongst Canada’s youth generation).

I asked her–“are you spiritual?” and her quick response was “absolutely”.  My next question invited her opinion.  I said that I had noticed that many of her generation were not paritcipating regularly in a formal “church” context.  Why is that?  and what could be done to change that?   She was incredibly polite and incredibly disclosing.

She’d grown up in a strong church going conservative Christian home.  She was presently taking a break from church going but not from believing.  She was using her 20’s to explore without commitments or boundaries.  So, going to church was one thing she had released in her exploratory phase.  Her comment was that she hadn’t dismissed church going, and maybe sometime she’d get back to it, but right now it wasn’t high on the priority list.   As I listened I thought to myself, this woman isn’t cynical or disrespectful, she’s smart.  I hope she finds her way in life.

In contrast, yesterday, at a different restaurant, I asked similar questions of our server who also was young, 20 something, witty, energetic and competent.  Interestingly, she too was quick to identify herself as “spiritual”.  And interestingly, she too self identified as having a deep church experience.  And interestingly, she too was “taking a break right now”.  But here is where the story diverged.  The second woman had been actively involved in her church, leading youth, serving where needed, participating in a mentoring program with junior high girls…but something happened to her.  She didn’t disclose the details but she did mention that “the system showed itself to be full of hypocrites”.  And rather than fight it, she walked from it.  I didn’t sense her spirit to be as calm about the matter.  In fact, I felt for her. She was hurt, mad, uncertain, and confused.  As I say I don’t know the details that derailed her but it made me angry to think she was in the weeds as a result of it.

I didn’t feel as optimistic for the second woman as I did for the first.

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