Sunday, March 18, 2012
Get Me Some Religion
I have always been a fan of the phrase “come-to-Jesus moment.” For me times like these are what I consider real church. I didn’t always think this. As a little girl I believed that church happened in my Mary Janes and yarn-tied braids. I believed that church was ladies in lacquered beehive hairdos, white heels, and polyester dresses, a smack of red lipstick and some honeysuckle perfume. I believed that church was the choir in their awe-inspiring robes, giant hymnals poised gingerly in outstretched hands, mouths forever in the shape a giant O. Church was the smell of the wooden pews, a stick of Juicy Fruit from my grandpa's left breast pocket, and the bellowing voice of the preacher as he MOVED the congregation. Church was Sunday supper at Grandma’s house afterwards, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, butter beans and sweet tea. Church was a building with people and lessons and stories, a place to go, a place to be.
As I grew older I learned that church happened also in the real world and not just on Sundays. Church was in the charred, smoke filled furniture of my aunt’s that my parents stored in our tiny extra bedroom, the furniture that was left from the fire that took the house that as a single mother she shared with her five children. Church was in the walk with friends down to Miss Gardner’s penny candy store, permission from my mother to buy whatever I liked and coins enough to do it, leaving that store with a brown paper bag stuffed with Double Bubble, jaw breakers, and an ample supply of pride. Church was in the teacher who called me doctor when I wasn’t, the teacher who believed when not too many did, the teacher who made sure that opportunities that mattered happened and that I was well aware I should take them, the teacher who showed me, in the end, not just how to teach, but how to be a teacher. Church was also in those come-to-Jesus moments in my life.
I am a freshman in college taking in the springtime as a wonderful breeze fills my dorm room. Lion posters, my sorority’s mascot, line my walls and the sound of ABBA floats from the stereo. I am in my happy place. I am content, at peace, and feeling the rush that comes from semester’s near end. I get a call. I should go now to console my fraternal little sis. I should go right now. I should get to her room as fast as I can. There has been an accident.
I am listening, but I am not hearing.
Some of us are dating guys from the soccer team. My “little” is seeing one of the Canadian players. There are a few. It is very cosmopolitan in our tiny southern Indiana town. I have never known a Canadian. He is a nice guy, and funny. We hang out and talk and laugh. I think the two of them are a great match, and I thoroughly enjoy his company. He teaches me about using both sides of the paper when I write. Americans are wasteful, he says. He doesn’t like this. I don’t care. I continue with my wasteful ways. It irritates him to no end. I sort of have fun with that. He also teaches me the term ménage a trois. It is a tough lesson, and I am just not getting it. I am somewhat embarrassed, but so, so curious. Not that we do it, but he definitely adds a point of interest to my vocabulary, and I always make sure to be around when he is teaching new words. We have some good times.
But now I am on the phone being told that I should go, being told that I should put the phone down and go. There was an accident. There was a tournament, a weekend thing, out of town, just a weekend thing. He wasn’t driving. The driver is okay. The car crossed the line. Dead at the scene. Dead at the scene. He won't be back.
Come to Jesus. People die. They don’t get to choose when. You can see someone one day, be hanging out in a dorm room discussing the concept of a threesome, laughing and blushing, and the next day you will never talk to him again. You will never see him, never laugh with him, never talk to him again. Just like that.