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Bobbie Jo Morrell is a mountain woman, poet, writer, leather crafter, rustic furniture builder, cat owner, technical writer, website designer. She says, “Colorado’s Front Range, with the smell of pine trees in the cool air of morning, is my home.” Her blog address: http://soulscompass.blogspot.com/.

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Deeper Warrior Chapter 10: Laundry on the Edge

One hand tipped the plastic basket, the other shoveled dirty clothes into the washing machine. Christine was in her room with her Navigator friends, doing “Bible Study.” For me, a quiet evening doing laundry and studying. I shoved the quarters into the slots and headed back upstairs to my room.

Once I reached the mailbox hallway, I saw Tom knocking on the door to my room. Short, barrel shaped, a kind of teddy bear type who would be equally at home on a Harley Davidson, he was dating a friend of Chris’. Why was he visiting me? I considered hiding until he gave up knocking and went away, but that would be rude.

“Hi,” I said, opening my door. “What’s new?”

After a few minutes of awkward chatting—small talk has never been a gift of mine—he got to his point.

“I just felt that God was telling me to come talk to you tonight.”

My left eyebrow rose in a classic Mr. Spock expression. “Really?”

I’d had visits from wacky Christians before, long ago: unnaturally friendly and smiling strangers handing me small, cheaply printed pamphlets with titles like “The Four Spiritual Laws.” I’d avoided them religiously. I had discovered that pretending to be a Buddhist just encouraged them, but pretending to be already “born again” had worked well to keep them at bay.

Now, though, I couldn’t play that game. Not only did Tom know me through Christine, but I was also stuck up on the ridge of choice, the cold watershed trying to decide which darkness to choose. Tom rambled on about Jesus, and I heard that carpenter’s voice chanting, “Hope, hope, hope…” I stared at him helplessly, until one sentence finally penetrated.

“What’s keeping you from becoming a Christian right now?”

What indeed? I rehearsed all my traditional responses, and they echoed hollowly in my mind. Don’t want to give up drinking? Well, where had drinking gotten me? Don’t believe that God created the world in a literal 6 days, after all I am a scientist? That didn’t seem to stop Chris in pursuing her degree in agronomy. Don’t want to be tied down to some restrictive and primitive belief system? The Jesus I was getting to know through reading Matthew seemed to be offering me something different, something richer and deeper. I felt a cold sweat pop out on my forehead and I opened my mouth to reply.

“I have to go put my laundry in the dryer. I’ll be right back.” I fled downstairs.

Desperately I pulled out the wet clothes and stuffed them into the dryer. Where were those quarters? Into the slot with them and the whir of tumbling dampness. I leaned back against the warm dryer for a moment. Run away? No, too late for that. And I knew that I had to choose—this was my last moment on the ridge. Which way?

Slowly I climbed the stairs again. My excuses were gone. Even though hope scared the shit out of me, I couldn’t deny it tonight. I told Tom that there was nothing to keep me from becoming a Christian.

He began to pray, and I bowed my head with him. I couldn’t take life in the darkness anymore; I wanted what Jesus was offering, even though I didn’t know what it would look like, what it would feel like, what pain I would have to go through…

I can’t remember what Tom said in his prayers. But as soon as he said, “Amen,” he jumped up with a big smile and gave me his classic bear hug.

“Now,” he said, “we must go tell Christine and her friends the good news!” He grabbed my arm and hustled me out the door into the hallway.

“No, I mean, really…we shouldn’t disturb…” I pulled against him to no avail. He banged on Chris’ door loudly. As soon as the door opened, he pushed me in front of him into the midst of these women, shouting, “We have a new sister in Christ!”

My first prayer was that I would sink through the floor and disappear.

Everyone exclaimed loudly, and their surprised faces blossomed into happy grins. I stood silently, wiping my forehead and face with my hand. At last, after a whole, say, two minutes, Tom and I retreated and they resumed their Bible Study. With another bear hug, Tom said good night and left me alone with my laundry and my new choice.

Slowly I carried my dry clothes up in the plastic basket, set them on the semi-decrepit chair and began to fold. All the frantic tension of the past few weeks had gone, and a weird, resting peacefulness had suddenly descended. No more cold and windy ridge. I chose hope, as unknown and frightening as it was.

Presently I heard Christine’s door open and her Navigator friends spill chattily into the common room. And then came a knock on my door.

Trina, the leader of the Navigator group that Chris belonged to, came in with a smile. “Welcome to the family,” she said and gave me a hug. I felt very shy and silly, but it warmed my heart.

After everyone had gone, Christine dove back into her room for a minute, then burst out again to meet me in the middle with a big grin and her former-shotputter bear hug. She held out a gold chain with a cross made of deep red garnets hanging on it.

“It was my grandmother’s,” she said. “I want you to have it.”

Overwhelmed and silent, I let her put it round my neck. She seemed about to burst with laughter or something big and joyful.

“Let’s go out to Lost and Found Lounge for margaritas to celebrate!”

story by bobbie jo morrell, all rights reserved

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