August 30, 2004, on this blog: Evangelical Anxiety
For now I’ll just share a sad, lonely example of evangelical anxiety described by Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk. … Annie rings a doorbell to ask the homeowners for their permission to walk along Tinker Creek where it passes through their property:
The woman was very nervous. She was dark, pretty, hard, with the same trembling lashes as the boy. She wore a black dress and one brush roller in the front of her hair. She did not ask me in.
My explanation of myself confused her, but she gave permission. Yes, I could walk their property. … She did not let me go; she was worried about something else. She worked her hands. I waited on the other side of the screen door until she came out with it:
“Do you know the Lord as your personal savior?”
My heart went out to her. No wonder she had been so nervous. She must have to ask this of everyone, absolutely everyone, she meets. That is Christian witness. It makes sense, given its premises. I wanted to make her as happy as possible, reward her courage, and run.
She was stunned that I knew the Lord, and clearly uncertain whether we were referring to the same third party. But she had done her bit, bumped over the hump, and now she could relax.