Story of an Unlikely Reader: Into The Closet – Washington, DC, June 2012

Definition of an unlikely reader:  A person who may not be likely, for various reasons, to come across books like mine.

My Honda Odyssey van strained to make it up the hill of Northampton Street.  It did not do well over the bumps, but we had made it home from Ohio with over one thousand pounds of books. Now they sat in the car in front of our house.  Soon a friend arrived, who had volunteered to help us put the books in the hall closet behind the coats – or so I thought.  Each box contained 36 books, each book weighed one pound – too heavy for husband Jon’s ailing back, maybe too much  for mine and for our friend’s also.

As we peered into the van, trying to develop a strategy, I noticed that there were three young men doing yard work next door.   In chatting with them, I learned that they were from Jamaica.  I offered them the job.  We bargained for a while, before settling on a price.  One man was very outgoing, very talkative.  We watched them with envy, as they carried two boxes at a time into the house. To my horror, the boxes filled the entire closet.

“So what do I do with all of my coats?” I asked my talkative helper.  He smiled and replied, “It’s summer time – you don’t need coats.”  Did he actually think I would be getting rid of one thousand plus books by winter?  Think again.  The coats found a home in the basement.

When I read my talkative friend’s  tee shirt which said,” Jesus Saves,” accompanied by a big cross,  an idea was born.  I’ll give him a book.

“Let’s strike a deal,” I proposed.  “I’ll pay your original asking price for your labor, as long as you promise to read one of my books.”

I told him that I would put the book in a paper bag and only when he got home could he look at it.  But before he looked at it, he had to take a minute to promise to open his mind and open his heart.  He made the promise.  He seemed very pleased with more money and a new book.  But then he proceeded to take the book out of the bag and shake his head in dismay. “This is not the way God intended things to be,” he said.  His smile was gone.

I reminded him that he had broken his promise and that he had forgotten about opening his heart.  He agreed to give it another try, putting the book back into the bag.  His two buddies looked on, but I’m not sure they quite got it.  They left with plenty of handshakes and expressions of gratitude.

When they were gone I began to get a little scared.  A thought entered my mind. “Maybe they’ll come back and kill me or rob the house.”  My friend allayed my fears but was skeptical about the book being read.

Two days later I saw my “Jesus Saves” tee shirted friend outside talking to my husband.  He looked very friendly.  Then he came to the door.  He said, “I read the book.  I understand you now.  I didn’t know any of this before.  Your son Joshua is blessed with a mother like you.  I hope Joshua stays happy.”

We parted with a big hug, each of us with teary eyes – with the magic that happens when different lives touch; the magic that can trickle down  to who knows where.

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