Freddy, why don’t we take a break and sit on the porch for a few minutes? It was very sweet of you to leave all your college friends on a Saturday morning and help an old woman with yard work, but you’re all sweaty and my poor old back is killing me.
I think we can leave those azaleas until next week don’t you? You will come and help again next Saturday won’t you? Good. Well, I must say I enjoy your visits too. It doesn’t matter if we don’t get too much work done, and besides I think it’s lunchtime. I just baked that bread this morning, and there’s some ham left over from Sunday. I bet you’d like a big ham sandwich. Do you want a pickle? Why don’t you sit on the porch and relax with Samson while fix us some lunch. Do you like onion soup? Oh good!
Here we are. Now I was interested in what you said last week about that church you go do sometimes with your friends. You know I went to one of those churches once with Mrs Hudson who lives across the street, and they invited me to “accept Jesus into my heart.” Bless them, they didn’t know I was brought up Baptist and knew all about that sort of thing already. So I said that I had already accepted Jesus not only into my heart, but into my stomach too. Because you see, I’d been to Mass that morning. Oh dear, they didn’t really know what to think, and I’m afraid I might have offended them because they gave me a rather disagreeable look.
Freddy dear, I’m sure those folks are very sincere, and they are probably better Christians than I am, but I’ve always been rather leery about all those emotional religious experiences. I’m not one for holy huddles where everyone sits around and studies the Bible. Oh, don’t get me wrong Freddy. I think the Bible is quite wonderful and read a chapter every night before bed. I know I’m being petty and mean, but I just found it tiresome to spend a whole evening with a group of other ladies only to discover what a particular Bible passage meant to Mildred Dawkins.
Now Mildred’s a very fine Christian woman, but she’s not exactly a Bible scholar. Dear me, I’m getting off the point. Let’s see, where was I. Oh, yes, I’ve never been very fond of these groups who try to get me to have some sort of exciting or comforting or pleasant religious experience. It seems too manufactured if you see what I mean. It’s like this Freddy dear, I’ve thought it through quite a lot you see, and it seems to me that if a religious experience is pleasant, then it is more likely that I have made it all up in my own mind–it’s sort of like wishful thinking. Do you know I once went to one of their charismatic prayer meetings and Mildred Dawkins went up to receive prayers from the preacher. My goodness! There were people falling over in a dead faint when he prayed over them and they were all crying out and laughing and saying they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then I noticed that when Mildred went forward she double checked to see if her catcher was there. The ‘catcher’ is the fellow they have there to catch them when they swoon. I sort of caught her at it. Goodness! looking back it was all rather funny. You see, Mildred had planned to swoon, and sure enough, when she toppled over and lay there on the floor she even arranged her skirt so nobody could look up it.
So I said to Mildred the next day, “My dear, you looked like you were planning to swoon last night for the preacher.” Of course she denied and has been rather huffy to me ever since.
The point is dear Freddy, that if a religious experience is pleasant in some way it is more likely to have been something I’ve sought out, and that’s not quite right is it? It doesn’t, feel right somehow. For my part, I’ve always felt closest to the good Lord when things are going wrong–not when they’re going right. I remember when Mr Brady died and my world rather fell apart. Then in the middle of it all I had the most wonderful sense of Jesus Christ being at my side. Oh, nothing warm and fuzzy or pleasing. I didn’t swoon like Mildred Dawkins or anything like that. I just knew Christ at a deeper level than before.
So if you don’t like that sort of church they take you to, why I wouldn’t go. Just come over here instead and tell them you’re going to do yard work and we can have a nice chat and perhaps bake some cookies and take them over to Mr. Klondyke who everybody thinks is so grumpy, but who I have a rather soft spot for.
Goodness, is that the time? Let’s get the car out and I’ll get you back to campus before you get yourself into trouble again.