Skip to main content

strangers and not strangers

This morning two ladies rang my doorbell. I answered the door still in my bathrobe (YES, I was awake, but I tend to check my email and do some reading before I get dressed). They were Jehovah's Witnesses and they started right out of the gate by reading some scripture passage to me in French and asking my opinion about it, which was really a pretty thinly veiled attempt to direct the conversation to their particular version of the last days. There were really nice, polite ladies, but I had no desire to talk to them in a prolonged sort of way. My just-got-out-of-bed hair and disheveled bathrobe must have given them a clue that it was not an optimum time to have a conversation with me, so they departing leaving me with two French copies of the Watchtower which I set on my filing cabinet next to the Book of Mormon.

I sat down to finish my reading and wondered if I should have continued the dialogue, but I really had not sensed that it was something I needed to pursue at that moment. I do like to engage with the people that come across my path, but I cannot let their agenda supersede what God is doing in my life at the moment. So the question always is...what is mine to do today and what is not?
After finishing some reading, I returned to my church correspondence and found one email from a stranger in England with whom I started corresponding yesterday regarding a visit to Montreal. The direct and probing questions in her original email had intrigued me, so I had let my fingers and thoughts fly and responded with frankness about who we were and what we wanted to do in Montreal and how it didn't always look the way one expected it to look. This morning I found a warm and lengthy response from her, a true glimpse into the person she is and the place in which she finds herself (a recent failure which just made my soul sag with empathy). My reading today had included a chapter in a book which talked about embracing failure and mistakes, so I wrote a short quote from it, made a silly joke, added some additional information I thought she might find interesting, and hoped I was not being too presumptuous or intrusive in how I was relating to her. I can do that sometimes, you know, presume everyone at the other end of cyberspace is my new best friend.
She responded immediately with ALL CAPS and lots of exclamations points!!!!!!! There is a connecting going on beyond mere similar interests and beliefs. She challenges me to be honest and real. Her hunger and humility move me. Let me never be afraid to respond in a sincere and open manner to those that God points me to. Where is his finger pointing now?
Oh, look, a bug in my backyard.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

building the church

Imagine two scenarios: 1) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Ask them to come together and put their sticks onto a table. Invariably, you end up with a random pile of sticks on a table. 2) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Show a picture of a popsicle stick bird feeder and ask people to come together and put their sticks on a table according to the picture. You will end up with the beginnings of a bird feeder on a table.

What is the difference between the two scenarios? In both, each person brought what they had and contributed it to the collective. However, in the first scenario, there were no guidelines, no plan, and no right or wrong way to pile the sticks. People came, placed their sticks on the table, and walked away. In the second scenario, people were given a plan to follow and as a result, something specific was built. Instead of walking away after they made their contribution, people huddled around the table to watch what was being built. Some were…