I was very excited when Rhyd Wildermuth asked me if I’d like to have Pagan Tea Time with him over Skype. For one thing, if you follow my blog, you know I idolize Rhyd a bit. I was a bit reticent, though, because we are very different people. Would we have anything to talk about? Would I bore him to death? Would he be offended by my very existence? Could we avoid arguing about our differences?
I turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Rhyd (which by the way is pronounced “Reed”) is super cool. He told me about his pilgrimage to Bretagne, a little about what called him there, about working with homeless people, and about busking. He even played his recorder for me! (If you have tea with him in the future, you have to ask him to play. If not, check out some of his music here.)
Yeah, we’re different. I work for The Man. Rhyd works for Humankind. I’m one of those annoying Humanist Pagans who is too stuck in his head. Rhyd is a devotional polytheist whose relationship with the gods I am envious of. I’m conventional. Rhyd is un-. But that’s what made the whole thing so cool. There was no judgment. No contention. We laughed a little about the most recent most intra-Pagan online conflict. Rhyd talked passionately about the synchronicities of the timing of his pilgrimage and the symbolism of one of the sites that he stayed at. I told him about my soul-deep longing to hike the green mountains around Machu Pichu. And whatever our differences, both he and I honor that kind of magic.
In his post about our chat, Rhyd compared the Humanist/Polytheistic online debates (sorry, I’m not sure how to label the “sides”) to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In that scenario, I would most likely be the over-privileged and overly-aggressive Israel. My chat with Rhyd was not the Oslo Accord. It was just tea (or hot chocolate in my case). Two guys having a talk about stuff that matters to them. In the future, Rhyd is still likely to tell me that something I have written on this blog is completely wrong. And I’m likely to tell him he’s missing the point or being over-sensitive. We may even inadvertently offend each other. But, now that we have talked over tea, I am going to hear his words differently. I’m going to listen a little more carefully for the good intention behind his words. I will be a little more careful about how I respond and worry a little more about how he might take my words. And I think the same will be true for him too.
Which is why I think Pagan Tea Time is such a good idea. If you’ve never talked to Rhyd, shoot him a line and invite him to tea. Or someone else you only know through online writing. Even me. I won’t turn anyone down. I can’t promise to be as interesting as Rhyd, but I promise to be as interested in you.