31. It’s Monday Morning!…Meeting Rules

Since OD3 instructed me to drink oodles and oodles of water I’ve become more thirsty, so I usually take a water break during the first meeting on Sunday morning, sit in the foyer for a few minutes and sip my travel mug of warm water.  I refuse to drink in the auditorium where the Lord’s Supper is going on since I got in big trouble when I was 4 for eating cookies during meeting.  (FYI to “go to meeting” is short-hand speak for attending a church service.)  I already wear sneakers and sit in the baby row at church – I’m not going to rock the boat by adding an eating/drinking infraction to the list.

It’s funny how the rules we grow up with stay with us as adults.  If I had a family I’m sure I’d make my children practice some of these behaviors, but I don’t so it’s up to my siblings to inform the next generation…Lemme know how that goes, guys :).   Example:   We grew up with a very healthy and serious respect for the Word of God.  I read an old storybook as a child that indicates this kind of respect was actually more common in America’s younger years, but regardless of the date, solicitousness for the leather-bound volume with the mix of black and red words in it was always (and emphatically) observed by our family.  Specifically, you never rested a Bible on the floor at our house.  To do so was unthinkable. And if you put your Bible on the coffee table thinking that was a safe place, think again.  The coffee table is also a common place for people to rest their feet, so we were very careful to put our Bibles on the far end of the table if we rested them there at all.

My sister told me once about a conversation she had with Hannah when she was just a baby.  They were rehearsing the “Meeting Rules,” and Hannah would lisp things like, “We use our inside voices to whisper during meeting,” but my favorite was, “We do not run away during meeting.”  Running away appeared to have been an issue.

There are also rules kids learn regardless of environment.  Think, “Stop, Drop & Roll” or “Don’t talk to strangers.”  Since it’s Monday morning and most of you are rushing off to work I’ve been thinking of the time I broke the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule when I first started working.  This story has also been referred to as the time “I gave a homeless man my umbrella but made him give it back,” (thanks, J :)) so I would like to elaborate further on the circumstances of that incident.

His name was Robert.  I used to ride the Metro to Farragut North before I started driving downtown, and Robert was there almost every morning, sitting in his wheelchair.  He was not panhandling or anything – he just sat in his chair and greeted the hoards of people stalking by with a very courteous “Good morning.”  At that time I was still adjusting from the freedom of my student/unemployed person’s schedule to having to show up in an office all day every day, and Robert’s morning greeting was a welcome salve in two little words.

He was so nice I broke the talking to strangers rule and we struck up a friendship.  He called me “Nina” and I went with it.  Pretty soon Mom would slip a bag of cookies or something into my purse and say “for Robert,” as she sent me out the door.  Other times I’d grab a banana for him.  When I gave him these things he’d thank me and slip them into the prosthetic leg that was unattached to him and just sitting by his wheelchair,  “Savin’ that for later, huh, Robert?” I’d say.

One day it was snowing and as I stepped off the escalator I immediately noticed that Robert was sitting in his usual spot, utterly exposed to the elements, greeting people in the same calm and kind voice.  “Robert, you don’t have an umbrella!” I observed lamely.  “Well now, no I don’t,” he observed mildly.  “Here, take mine,” I told him, and held out my umbrella in front of his face so he didn’t have much of a choice but to take it.

I had no idea then what being in a wheelchair was like, but anyone could see that to sit in a chair and get snowed on is an unpleasant experience.  If your chair is manual, you need both hands to “drive,” but if it’s stationary you can use one hand to hold an umbrella.  This appeared to be a good option to me since I had the freedom of hustling down K Street to my dry and warm office building, but Robert didn’t.

There was one hitch in my plan, though, so I told my dilemma to Robert.  I had already lost 2 umbrellas that week, and Mommy would NOT be pleased if I lost yet another, so I told Robert I needed this one back.  He readily consented, and the next time I saw him – it was a nice sunny day – he had the umbrella resting beside him and eagerly gave it back to me so I wouldn’t get in trouble.  Let the record show that I gave him a little travel umbrella I had purchased myself and was free to give away, in exchange.  Let the record also show that Robert kept his promise, and I respect that.

So as you head off to face a new work week I hope this story made you laugh.  Even if it didn’t let me take a page from Robert’s book and wish you a “Good morning!”