Have you ever had something “go down the wrong pipe,” to use an expression from my grandparent’s generation? It’s technically called aspiration in medical circles, that thing that happens when we aren’t attentive to our sip of water and it heads for our lungs rather than our stomachs. We start coughing and sputtering as our bodies try to prevent whatever isn’t supposed to be in our lungs from ending up there. It’s a horrible feeling, and for some reason in happens to me much more in restaurants than at home.
Encountering someone trying to evangelize us is the spiritual version of aspiration, I am convinced. As they boorishly press forward with their presentation, actually believing it will change anything in the direction they want it to change, we can let go of our natural aversion a bit by realizing they are operating at a very primitive level of spirituality and that this is the best they can do. We can no more change their minds that they can change ours. Of course, if all else fails, we might start coughing and sputtering in their face, but do remember to cover your mouth!