09 December 2012


by Andy Weddington
Sunday, 09 December 2012

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it." Voltaire

Not yesterday but a Saturday ago reveille sounded before 0400 - more common than not around here - for no particular reason other than good training. So the day began - moving and communicating. Shooting, the third 'ing' of Marine mode, ever the possibility to repel the ill-intended visitor, but no call for such - yet.   

Clad in faded jeans and USMC emblazoned T-shirt (proved a good decision), I poured a cup of coffee; caught up on news; replied to a handful of emails; instigated some hi jinx with a few of my own; jotted down thoughts for future commentary; and scribbled out a list of morning chores.

Several hours later, amidst vacuuming, the doorbell rang - 'ding dong' - an uncommon sound around here. First thought was to ignore but any excuse to break from vacuuming always welcome. Besides, considering the season, it might have been a delivery requiring signature. 

With window shutter slats strategically angled upward, I could see out but the bell ringer could not see in. It was a couple of women - one in her late 50s the other late 70s and much smaller. Each was holding something - selling something, perhaps.  

They looked harmless enough so opened the door and filled the frame and cheerfully greeted them, "Good morning, ladies, what can I do for you this morning?"

The younger of the two, "And good morning to you, sir. I am 'Betty' and this is 'Martha' and we've dropped by this morning to see if you're interested in having a conversation with God?"

Though not sure who was calling, that was not the expected sales pitch.

But leading Marines for many a year prepared me well for impromptu thinking and how to handle just such moments. I did not say anything, purposely, to create a moment of awkward silence. And looked at them with the best bewildered expression I could muster - as that simple tactic did with lance corporals and second lieutenants, it worked.

The younger of the two broke the quiet, "Goodness, we must have caught you by surprise - such a look." The older just smiled.

"No ma'am, you did not catch me by surprise. I was just collecting my thoughts. And now I'm ready to answer your question.

I was raised Roman Catholic. God and I have regular conversations - surely more frequently than He probably cares to hear from me. I will tell you through the decades I've learned, though blessed with superb listening skills, He is not much of a conversationalist. Our talks always end with me trying to decipher what He said and me having to figure things out for myself. And, more often than not, there is usually a curve ball, or two - so rarely do things turn out per my translations, calculations, and plans. Knowing His plan, even part of it, would sure be helpful."

The ladies, looking as if lost for words, politely listened. I continued...

"Perhaps you noticed my T-shirt? And see that small banner hanging just to your left? That's the seal of the United States Marine Corps. I am a Marine. Not only was I raised to believe in God but I was trained to believe in guns. You might say my faith is in God and religion is in guns. So there's really no need for a conversation with or about God. Though one of these days I do plan to have a long discussion with Him, over the best single malt Scotch heaven (yes, I'm an optimist) can distill, and get some things cleared up. No time soon, mind you. I suspect you're not interested in discussing guns so I thank you for dropping by this morning."

And with that the ladies smiled (now they had the bewildered look - as seen on many a lance corporal and second lieutenant), thanked me for the few minutes, and wandered to the next front door.

Oh to have been party to their chat as they walked down the drive. Might have made their day, who knows.

Break over, I resumed vacuuming. And laughed a little.

Day's chores completed, almost.

The doorbell's not chimed since.

Post Script

God must have approved - no curve balls that day. Faith's free. Religion and guns costly.


Tim Wilson said...

I can only wish I could be that articulate when they come to my house. Thanks for the insight. I am Bill Sliney's nephew and very grateful that he directed me to your blog!

A Colonel of Truth said...

Thanks for tuning in, Tim. Welcome! It took me a few years to figure out the best approach - diffusing with wit and kindness most effective, I've learned.