July 18, 2018
I walked in, pre-service, to find a small group gathered in discussion.
The leader looked up. “Would you like to join our Bible study?”
I skirted past a woman. In that nanosecond where one figures out what’s in one’s peripheral vision, I did a double-take. The woman was pumping breast milk with military precision and efficiency. I refrained from saying, “You’re really good at that!” and sat.
I took a Bible.
The group talked about someone’s surgery. Most returned to the reading. The man across from me kept jumping ahead to a different bible section on his iPad. As he read, he commented how he “just didn’t get this or that…” The leader reminded him that the group was to stick with the reading of the day. He ignored her.
The group started the next reading. With grocery list intonation, a member read out loud. “Sacred object started to topple…reached up to steady…God did smite…fell dead upon the ground.
Wait a minute! That poor person was only trying to keep a sacred object from falling off a cart! It was an “Oops” moment, but there went God, “SMITE!” Read with feeling, please!
“…Didn’t get it…” iPad Man intoned, and rambled on again.
The group’s leader, Sarah, disappeared.
A man walked up, and stood by the group, and made an announcement.
“A guy just walked in off the street in an indeterminate mental state. I set him up with towels and toiletries. He’s showering upstairs.” He shifted from one foot to the other. “Sarah’s waiting for him to finish his shower. I’d stay with them, but I have to leave. She’s up there with him by herself…by herself.”
Concerned and uncomfortable, he continued to stand and shift back and forth. The group, all male except for two, remained seated. The men said nothing. No one said anything. I knew what the reply should have been, and which characters should have spoken it, but I was not a prompter, and this was not a play. I kept mum. Finally a man said “I’ll go up.” The newcomer relaxed and left.
A few minutes later, Sarah came back, muttering that having a man replace her was not her choice or decision. “I went along with it…mutter, mutter.”
Back to the Bible verses.
It was almost time for the service. The group again drifted off into conversation. I got up and slipped away. No one said anything. No one seemed to notice. When I was outside, almost to my van, the leader, who had eventually followed me out, came up to me. “I just wanted to check to see if we made you feel welcome.”
“You welcomed me to your bible study,” I fudged.
She nodded, evidently satisfied, and walked away.