The scrapping sound of shoes on gravel signalled that someone was approaching my open door.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
“Me” a female voice replied. She appeared in the doorway, lugging a big black bag that was too heavy for her small frame. A silent man claded in a bright blue shirted with an equally large bag tagged her.
“Good morning.” she said.
“Oh, you’re on the phone.” Her eyes lit up.
Hmm, I thought, she believes she has me cornered.
Miss Jehovah Witness (JW) is a religious bully. She is never convinced that the reason which I give her for not being able to leave my work to talk with her about Jehovah is adequate. She insists and she insists. So we play the same scene every time she visits.
In fact, we have established roles. I explain why I am too busy to read and discuss the Bible with her. She tries to trigger my guilt with statements such as “You can’t spare five minutes for Jehovah; cooking is more important than Him?” We have spent more hours in this role-play than in Bible-talk. But today, I am sure my reason can’t be trumped, so I say:
“Yes, I am on the phone but we are talking about God, the Bible.” She looked toward a table in the corner where a closed Bible was resting. But, perhaps the presence of the Bible was enough evidence that I was worthy of a reprieve. JW looked very tired, though.
Well, can I leave some literature for you to read?” she asked, after thinking for a moment.
“Sure! And here’s some literature from my church,” I replied, proudly offering her a copy of The Anglican, my church’s newspaper. She looked at me incredulously but took the paper.
Holding it between her index finger and thumb as if it carried some highly contagious disease, she asked: “Is this the Daily Nation newspaper?”
“No, it is the Anglican, I AM an Anglican and that is OUR paper.”.
“Oh.” Her face turned ashen grey; she looked so scared, so lost, so confused that I was tempted to take the newspaper from her hands. Instead, I raised my eyes towards the ceiling and quietly prayed, “Lord don’t let this woman faint in my yard.”
After a few uncomfortable minutes, she mumbled ‘thank you’ and shuffled away with the newspaper in her shaking hands.
My friend who had heard the exchange due to the upturned telephone receiver asked if I thought she would read the paper. Before I could fully reply, I heard brisk steps coming to the door.
Oh hell, she’s back, I said running to the door. Her outstretched hand offered me The Anglican. “I brought it back, I honestly can’t read it.”
I reached back, took the Awake and Watchtower from the table and handed them to her saying: “Here are yours, I CAN read them, I am not blind and I literate, but honestly I WILL not!!”
“Oh let me explain,” she cried, attempting to return the magazines to me.
“It is okay” I said, ignoring her attempts.
“But I want to explain.”
“But I don’t want to know.”
“But you HAVE to let me tell you, why, you HAVE to.”
“I don’t care.”
This verse and chorus conversation continued for several minutes; much too long, in fact. It seemed we had created new roles, a new battle ground.
I don’t know if her tagged partner signalled to her that it was time to move, but she did so in the time. I was ready to quietly close my door.
Jehovah Witnesses are a special breed; brimming with confident condescension. My Anglicanism taught me to be brimming with confidence and tolerance; but please don’t try my faith.