People of the Pamphlet

It’s come down to this. If we can’t read it, see it or understand it in the brief time it takes to go to the restroom, then they’ve lost us. It’s all around me, our world is now a list of lists: 28 things not to feed your kids, 10 things you must do before you die, 50 ways to leave your lover. The craziness and chaos that is now what we call life has been boiled down and dumbed down to fit into our “busy” schedules. Heck, we can’t even type entire words anymore! LOL

It’s come down to this.  If we can’t read it, see it or understand it in the brief time it takes to go to the restroom, then they’ve lost us.  It’s all around me, our world is now a list of lists:  28 things not to feed your kids, 10 things you must do before you die, 50 ways to leave your lover.  The craziness and chaos that is now what we call life has been boiled down and dumbed down to fit into our “busy” schedules.  Heck, we can’t even type entire words anymore!  LOL

Great things often take time and can’t be simply condensed into a simple list or a 3 minute infomercial.    At times people walk into my life and I become completely aware that we have a great common thing.  Something that unites us.  Something that we hold so dearly common.  And yet it isn’t until we’ve shared time, coffee, tears, laughter, wine and or a variety of other things that a true bond of friendship is solidified.

This beauty takes time and patience.

It has taken me 40 years to delicately hone and develop my quirkiness.  Years of smiling and frowning just right to create wrinkles in just the right places.

This morning was a gift.  The sun was shining and the slight breeze a delight.  I jumped at the opportunity to wash clothes and hang them on the line.  While I was pinning another pair of Spiderman undies to the line, a beautiful group of women walked by my house and asked permission to join me in the yard.  I knew exactly who they were and what they wanted to share.  They were armed with books and leaflets ready to share God.  It wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last.  I’m always grateful when they come for they are kind and genuine.  In the states, I have an interesting line that almost no one expects, “my husband is a pastor.”  What typically follows is something to the effect of, “oh how wonderful, bless you and have a nice day.”  In some ways it’s my backstage pass.  I flash it and people nod and move on.  Not this group of strong women, they were unphased and ready to proceed with their ideas to share.

“This is good.  Now, is your house in order?”

First and foremost, never ask a mom of two young children if their house is in order.  Typically the ideas and images that surface have little to do with God and more to do with the piles of “stuff” on the floor in every room.

“I’m sorry?” I asked.

“Is your house in order?”

And then came the bookmarked bible and the pamphlets filled with fear.

“God is coming and you better be ready.”

I was still a little surprised that the “my husband’s a pastor” line hadn’t ended the conversation.  No bones about it, these women were on a mission.  And I was intrigued by their tenacity and their straightforwardness.  As someone whom has never been a public speaker or a writer I am amazed by those who step out and forward in the name of something.

And so I listened.  It was all of 4 minutes and they were gone.  And after they left I read (as much as possible as it was in Spanish) the literature they had left behind.  It was a list of how to get my life and “house” in order before the end.  Boiled down to its most basic form, this one page brochure, with cartoon-like Jesus pictures, shared the steps for me to prepare.

I began to wonder what to do when I’ve exhausted the list, and all things are in order?  I imagined myself sitting on the couch eating bonbons while the crickets chirp in the background.  Waiting… waiting…

And so there must be more.

When the dust settles, as I’m sure there’d be dust after the list, that’s when the beauty begins.  That’s when I actually fully live my life.  Beyond the top ten things to do before the rapture is when we create community.  For the truest of all beauty takes time.  The deepest of all understanding comes when we commit and truly be with one another.  In my experience it rarely comes in sound bytes, microwave dinners and status updates.  At its core it longs to ruminate.  It is my hope that we don’t sell short this grand experience for I believe God longs for us to know God more fully, more deeply.  God’s into long-term relationships, crockpots and conversations late into the night.

These persuasive women intrigued me and I realized what I really wanted to know more than anything was not if their house was in order, but what were the stories flowing in and out of the doors of their homes?   I wanted to hear how they are dancing with God on a day to day basis.  Not a pamphlet sized fear in your pocket kind of faith, but a full length movie of a life well lived in relationship with God.    

Scott and Rebecca Hardin-Niere serve as Long Term Volunteers in Costa Rica.