Last Saturday evening, Marnell was driving home from Illinois and planning to stop in Chicago to pick up Mat. I was engrossed in my writing project, fanning through conflicting genealogy and studying old maps of Staten Island. It seemed I had been only working for minutes when I realized several hours had passed since Marnell had text me to say he was heading toward Chicago. By now, he should have picked Mat up. I was surprised he hadn’t text me an update.
At 9:58pm, I sent him a text. I tried to ignore the fact that he wasn’t replying, but finally, I tried calling him. My call went to voicemail. Of course, I knew he might be driving in busy traffic, but when he didn’t answer twice, I felt that something dreadful had probably happened to him, and of course it was my connection with a stranger that had done it. Why, after all, should anyone pick someone up from the city on a Saturday night whom he had never actually met before?
I gathered myself together and called the number I had for Mat. He answered.
“Has Marnell picked you up yet?” I asked.
“Yes, we’re just getting on to the expressway,” he said.
Just then I saw I was missing a call from Marnell, so I hung up with Mat (in the passenger’s seat) and called Marnell (in the driver’s seat) and found he had not been abducted.
Marnell and Mat pulled in around midnight. Mat arrived in a suit and tie and graciously made use of our guest bed, which must have been much too short for him. He went to Elkhart church with us and joined in the discussion at Sunday school. He then went with us to Marnell’s brother’s house for lunch, where he ate haystacks for the fist time and played spike ball with Marnell’s nephews.
I have yet to peruse Mat’s document other than looking over his shoulder, but he spent several hours sharing with us and Sarah on Sunday night and then again on Monday night.
It was an encouraging time. He read us pieces of his manuscript. Without doubt it is the most thorough discourse on the topic of the Christian woman’s veiling and the Christian man’s uncovered head (a new idea for religious people at that time) that I have ever heard. For our different backgrounds we found a remarkable lot of common ground.
Perhaps the thing most striking was how it felt to listen to him sitting on our love seat, passionately expounding his beliefs, with a small, battered Bible nearly enveloped in his hand. It reminded me a little of what it might have been like to sit in the New Testament church somewhere and have Paul roll in from the east and begin to expound doctrine in a Philippian or Corinthian living room. It seemed that finding and following the truth and sharing it with others was perhaps the most important thing of all to Mat. He expressed a frustration with the philosophy of life that tells us we are saved from our sins and therefore can do whatever we want. He has a love of types and shadows, and reached into unexpected nooks and crannies of the Scripture to find the answers to his questions. He had read the Bible through in four months, twice.
It was late, and Mat ended up staying Sunday night as well. If he was like Paul, than I was like Eutychus, only it wasn’t even midnight and I did not fall out a window. My energy left around 10:30pm when Sarah left. I slipped away to bed close to 11pm, leaving Mat and Marnell to wrap up the night. My vision of myself as an extrovert disappeared into the mist of a need for solitude. (It’s only fair to confess this since last week I was practically bragging about how comfortable I was with having guests!) But I’m back in business, and we are hosting again this weekend, if you can call it hosting when an old friend (Marnell’s friend Josh) comes for a few nights and brings an entire ham personally smoked by himself.
Speaking of guests, we are -ahem- looking for a place to stay near Bethlehem, PA, Sunday night, September 9 and Monday night September 10, and possibly Saturday night, September 8. Marnell and I both have this idea that we know people in Allentown, PA, but we aren’t sure who. I am working on some writing that involves the Moravians, who originally started the Bethlehem settlement. We are visiting the site with historian Peter Hoover, and then driving up to Staten Island where the main character of the book lived before he met the Moravians.
So if any of you know of someone who might host us for a few nights in that general vicinity, do tell (Katrina@500-words.com). An affordable hotel would be worth knowing about too. As you know, writers don’t generally work with fat budgets.
Also, my apologies in advance: I will not be smoking a ham to bring to our hosts, despite the savory aroma from the one in my kitchen right now!