I turned the corner and there she was. She wasn’t dressed like a lot of other women, in makeup and revealing clothes — sexy attire that must be worn on a Friday night or else seem out of place. Nor was she dressed like Sunday morning, stuffy, uninteresting, and eager to get home and changed for a nap. No, she looked a lot like a Saturday afternoon. But not just any Saturday afternoon, a glorious one, a cozy one, one of the best of Saturday afternoons. The kind of Saturday afternoon when everyone winds up at one house, and people spill from the living room with college football on television to the back deck, full of conversation and cold drinks, and on into the kitchen where the women have gathered to gossip while cooking — or to cook while gossiping. That’s the kind of Saturday she was wearing.
“…she doesn’t necessarily call herself
a Christian these days,
though she does ‘appreciate God,’
albeit from a distance.”
I wasn’t expecting her so soon, or so far away from home. It seems like just the other day I saw her last… as a child in Alabama, at my grandparents’ house. And now here she was in rural Tanzania, standing at my desk with a cup of coffee. I said hello and we began to talk just like we used to, and at this particular hour in the morning it was just the two of us enjoying our conversation — though others would later join in. She spoke of family values, finances, and even recipes she’d gotten from here or there before the subject of our exchange finally turned to religion. She said she doesn’t necessarily call herself a Christian these days, though she does “appreciate God,” albeit from a distance. That struck me as ironic, considering her name.
I, on the other hand, spoke a great deal about God, and what he’s done in my life. How he’s given me joy and gladness, and purpose and meaning — none of which I deserve. Then I spoke of my family, and how incredible they are. How lucky I am to be married to Christie and how beautiful little Baylor is, and how we have a house that now feels like a home, even in Tanzania. And I told her about the other families on our mission team, and how I’m glad to have such good friends who care about me (and also know how to have a good time).
She asked if it was hard living here, so far from the rest of my family — and I admitted that it sometimes was — though technology helps a great deal, as do airplanes and postcards. I don’t actually send postcards, mind you, but several times I’ve bought a handful with intentions of putting them in the mail. Just thinking through pairing a family member with a photo they might enjoy brings to mind vivid memories. Not so much memories of certain events, but recollections of habits and quirks and mannerisms… those things which make a person who they really are. I miss my family back home. But I never do get around to sending those postcards.
“…technology helps a great deal,
as do airplanes and postcards.”
I enjoyed our time together, even though I know she’s a fickle woman and a bit of a deceiver. Today she dresses like a Saturday at home, content and happy to discuss family in the living room or in the kitchen. But tomorrow she’ll be different. She’ll change. Oh, her clothes might look the same, but she’ll be hurried and anxious. She won’t have conversations like the one we’ve shared this morning, about joy and happiness and recipes. And her voracious appetite for material possessions bought at bargain prices will be on display for all to see. She’ll distance herself just a bit from those family values she is today professing, probably not even realizing it. And then she’ll take several quick steps away from that God whom she appreciates, while she waits with everyone else for the doors to open.