The surprise of it all. The look on their faces. The initial suspicions. The relief. Simple and radical.
We started on Jamar Drive, just down the block from the church. Someone had suggested it as a gesture of radical hospitality. So, on the preceding Saturday, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a group of older and younger members made a bunch of pumpkin pies, more than 20, I'm told. Then we distributed them Tuesday night. Jim drove slowly in his car, stopping as Win and I knocked on doors or rang doorbells on opposite sides of the street. Jim crossed off names of families who were home and made notes of those who did not answer the door in the darkness of an early November evening.
I can only report on what I saw and heard and felt.
People not showing fear or apprehensiveness toward a stranger ringing a doorbell or rapping on a door in the dark, though I surmised fear, or at least practical safety considerations. The flickering light of a television screen in a distant room; television sets: America's new-found hearths, as John Updike once put it.
If I recall correctly, I saw not one male answer a door. Is that possible? Is it only women who answer the door in suburban America? Has Dad, if he is there, popped upon a stereotypical beer or is he living out a cliche by watching a sporting event? Would it be different on Tipp Hill?
Three young girls. I told them I'd understand if they could not accept a pumpkin pie from a stranger, but, see, here's a card from the kids in church school. Then a few minutes later Mom came home, in a van, into the driveway, with another girl, and as I stood in the driveway I surprised the mother, telling her that was the last thing I wanted to do, scare her, and I just want to tell you, I gave a pie to your daughters a few minutes ago. We're just saying Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for being good neighbors all year round.
That was the message.
Oh, how nice of you! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.
What was your name again?
No strings attached.
No Bible or prayer card or schedule of services or "Come, join us" or encyclical or chapter and verse. None of that.
A gift is freely given, with no conditions.
Stopped them in their tracks, faces transformed from puzzlement to wonder and gratitude and delight.
What a blast.
Then Kurt and Jack joined us.
Four men, huddled in the dark.
Almost a quorum.
As if giving thanks had legislative requisites.
We knew without saying the motion, the movement, the tidal pulse, was carried.