Roscoe, our two-year old mixed off-white, lab-shepherd, is a great pet but he’s somewhat selective as a guard dog. Selective about who he considers to be potential intruders. He will not bark at most strangers at the door unless they happen to be the pest control guy or my Councilman Paul Tisdale in the neighborhood campaigning -- or perhaps anyone proselytizing their faith. Such was the case last Saturday when, on hearing a mousey knock at the front door, Roscoe sprang into action.
Commanding Roscoe to stay at bay, I opened the front door to find two young women, in their very early twenties in light summer casual dresses, standing humble-like. They each had an easily visible name tag which also identified them as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Each introduced themselves: Sister “Her” and Sister “She”. And so began the typical encounter with the door-to-door missionary. It was a first for me, that is, two Mormon women missionaries.
They asked me if I’d heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints and the Book of Mormon and I said I did and that I had also been at their website in the past. I shared that during a time of intellectual curiosity in college that I had done some vetting and learned something about the main religions, including theirs, as well as the Evangelical denominations. I then added that I was well grounded in my Catholic faith adding lightheartedly that they were probably wasting their time on me.
I further shared that for me the Catholic faith contained a complete constellation of beliefs and truths that best explained Divine Revelation, more than any other faith, leaving the fewest number of gaps, holes, and unanswered questions about what we’ve come to understand about human life, reality, purpose, and the meaning of it all.
At any rate they listened attentively, with excellent eye contact and composure, void of pretentiousness, and then Sister She asked me what Jesus Christ meant to me and for my life. We then shared common understandings and generalities about the Cross of Christ, salvation, redemption, life after death, and so forth. We really didn’t get into contrariness, or the stark differences between our faiths, including the odd notion to some of sacramentalism in which a thing can be a sign and channel of grace, the foremost of which is God himself coming to us in material form through the human body to provide the greatest Grace of all. It would’ve been easy on both parts to do so, notwithstanding each perceptive in the other of their being well-grounded in their respective faiths.
I asked them if they were the complements to the commonly seen young Mormon men who ride bikes in pairs. They chuckled and said they were indeed and that their bikes were right around the corner. At that moment a distant memory flashed in my mind of once seeing two young proselytizing Mormon men having parked their bikes on the Highway 90 seawall, walking in the sand towards a young lady sunbathing in a two-piece. I amused myself in imagining if their opening line might be something spiritually inclined like “Hello. We were wondering if you hurt yourself when you fell,” of course implying she might be an angel from heaven. But on second thought they probably and appropriately asked the same question Sister She asked of me.
I asked if either of them had ever explored the religious beliefs of other faiths. Sister She came into her faith at the age of eight. Sister Her said she had been a Mormon from birth, probably like the overwhelming majority of Believers being raised in the faith of their parents.
Probably sensing they could be using their time more wisely elsewhere Sister Her asked me if I knew of anyone who was seeking or without faith. I told them I did but they lived to far away for a bike ride. We both readily agreed in a mutual lament that there were more and more who were abandoning the Transcendent for the Material, and that spiritual impoverishment was growing.
After they left I reflected on the boldness, courage, and conviction two young women have to ride bikes and walk neighborhoods on a Saturday afternoon, a sunny summer day in which they could’ve been doing any number of other activities. Their courage I think defies the odds of successfully connecting with people who more likely than not greet them with a gruff “We don’t want any of what you’re selling! Bye”. Maybe what, nineteen times out of twenty?
In discerning and measuring one’s intent or purpose in any endeavor I’ve always thought it difficult to argue against someone, anyone, along a faith journey who is seeking to draw close to God; it’s even more difficult to fault someone who’s trying to help them get there. May God bless these two women and while I do not subscribe to the beliefs to which they hold dear, may they and others like them succeed, should they be graced with the encounter, in at least bringing closer to God the lost soul who is searching, trying to come Home.