As someone softly knocked on my door one day last week I looked through the peephole thinking it was a neighbour. Instead there were two women standing there with light blue prairie dresses and matching navy pea coats. Their smiles consisted of what I perceived as drug or cult induced and they flashed name tags saying they were sent by Jesus. So I stood there and asked myself if someone was knocking on his door what would Jesus do if he lived in this day and age? Would he open it in my neighbourhood?
When I was very young my mother, desperate to be cured from her ongoing illnesses, invited the Jehovah Witnesses in one day. They talked to her for two hours and came every day after that for a couple of weeks. The Jehovah Witness periodicals were piling up on our coffee table and my father started to ask questions. He found out that my mother had been thinking about joining them and she had given them a lot of the weekly grocery money.
You couldn't blame my mother; she had even gone down to the land of Oral Roberts hoping he could make her walk again. After they had emptied their pockets at the different Oral Roberts toll booths, they didn't have enough money to finish the journey. So my father, fearing another religious incident, stayed home until they finally went away.
The young women now standing in front of me looked more like polygamists from the Big Love compound than anything else. Trying to be honest I didn't let them begin their holy pitch and just told them that I wasn't interested. They kept repeating that they were bringing me blessings from Jesus.
I pointed to the next door neighbours wind chimes that said "Jesus Loves Me" and told them that he had already been here. I smiled, said good day and shut the door. I noticed that they didn't go to the crack house next door and I understood as no one would answer the door unless you had drugs or a bad attitude.
What had attracted them here? Was it the Menorah on the kitchen window sill for lighting Hanukkah candles? Maybe they just wanted me to join their sisterhood but didn't know I looked like an idiot in pastel coloured cotton.
They looked happy as I watched them walk towards Fairview Street. That was a bad pilgrimage choice and those girls didn't have a holy chance there. They were only going to encounter angry people with gold toothed smiles who would want them to say hello to their little metal friend that they kept in their pockets if they offered blessings from Jesus.
I see Jehovah Witnesses every week now at McDonalds in the city and they lay their information down neatly on the tables and sit quietly. This is a high traffic area and they know they can circulate their “Good News of the Kingdom” better here than knocking on doors. I talk to a lot of them and we have hearty and warm discussions. Just because we do not follow or agree on each others beliefs is no reason to scorn each other.
Last week some lovely ladies of the faith and I had a rousing discussion about the pending end of the world and we agreed to disagree. Then one whopper of a rancid fish tale that knocked me down flat came out between sips of coffee. They told me that they had heard that there had been nuclear testing three years ago on 62nd Street and that the residents were dying of brain tumours. One lady said,
“Poor Chauncy Brown, that nuclear testing killed him real good!”
Her friend argued and said that it was simply that his higher power consisted of way too much fried chicken and biscuits. With that everyone roared with laughter and agreed unanimously. If you have love and respect for others you can most definitely find something you can high five each other about. Even nuclear testing!
I think I even have an answer to clear up the old wives tale of probable testing on 62nd Street. Now that I think about it, I do remember a very windy day a few years ago when a turkey fryer blew up and set a house on fire. I think it might have even belonged to old Chauncy Brown!
Images and text: Linda Seccaspina 2011
Dedicated to those wonderful women I had coffee with last week at McDonalds!
"Short Shorts" by Linda Seccaspina - Testing on 62nd Street?