Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 20, 2019

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

After a two-hour drive, the darkness was beginning to fully settle in as the Chevy pickup entered the subdivision. The familiar lights, of the comfortable homes, gave the sense of belonging to something; even if the driver could not define what that “belonging” was. Noting, with a smile, his wife had left the garage lights on, Albion Thomas pressed the garage door button and slowed as the door slowly creaked open. Idling in, he shut off the pickup, and sat in the new silence.

Albion couldn’t get the uncomfortable picture of what had just happened with he and his buddies at the beach. He had been looking forward to the gathering, for a long time, and had envisioned talking into the night, reminiscing about the past, downing a few brews and enjoying the company of his fellow forty-somethings. All of this anticipation was brought short by this strange guy they had invited into their midst.

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The guy looked like most of them, nothing overtly odd, and it was only when he sat down it was discovered he was “different.”  Much of what Albion remembered came to him in bits and pieces. There was something said about “Good News” and “God,” and some other words about being on a journey. What was really so troubling was this guy did not fit into the expectations of any of those assembled. In practice, the off-putting presence of the unknown was so disturbing, so alien, and the expectations so shattered, the group literally beat a hasty retreat to the familiar.

This was what weighed upon the mind of Albion that evening. As he sat there, the door from the kitchen slowly opened into the garage, breaking the stillness and spilling bright light over the too-soon returned husband. “Honey, I am surprised you are home! Is everything OK?” Responding with an “I’m OK. Be in in a minute,” and collecting himself, he soon stepped into the loving arms of his wife, Susana. With a longer embrace than usual, Susana was a bit concerned. Her “radar” worked well when it came to her spouse.

Albion relayed the details of what had occurred that afternoon. What bothered him most was his lack of interest in what this guy had to say. It conflicted with their core beliefs, as they often called themselves “practicing Christians.” He, and the members of the group he was with, were so set on fulfilling their own agenda that, when it was disrupted, they could not adjust to anything else. Later, in talking it out with Susana, they agreed there was a big difference between “could not” and “would not.” Their discussion left more questions, than answers.

Confidence, courage, curiosity, knowledge…these have often been the attributes associated with an intellectual mindset. We should note these attributes are within each of us, to one degree or another, only when they are exercised, do we form a greater whole within ourselves and with others. Confidence gives us the positive strength to go on. Courage, not of the brawny type, directs us along our life journey into the unknown, Curiosity, stimulates the first two attributes and calls us to discover what had previously been unknown. Lastly, knowledge is the learning of our lives, for if we have learned little, then we have lived little.

And, as has been said, “The more I know, the less I know.” Such is the quandary of God’s design and our choice; either near bestiality, or something beyond our baser natures. Albion may have felt pressured to “follow the pack,” and leave abruptly. He may have been off-putted at this fellow’s pretense in imposing an alternate direction to their camaraderie.