It was a gorgeous evening, and my bike was begging for some exercise, so, blocking out the looming Anabaptist History final, I gave in. Normally when I ride for pure pleasure I choose the scenic routes with open fields, lakes, and deep blue skies. But tonight I thirsted for something more earthy–no less glamorous, but really real. So I piloted my steed to Meadville, my hometown. It’s amazing how much more I notice about Meadville when I bike. I can no longer roar past the pedestrians with my climate-controlled car. No…on a bike I am forced to make eye contact and wish them a good evening. On a bike I drink in the smells of exhaust, asphalt, and fast food. I hear the dogs bark, diesels roar, and children squeal. The comfortable bubble of my vehicle is gone. It’s vulnerable–and it’s good.
I made my way to Diamond Park where I rested on a park bench and absorbed the sights, sounds, smells, and attitudes of a city nearing the evening hours. Soon an elderly gent strolled by and we struck up a conversation. It began with weather and jobs but eventually turned to religion. Turns out he was a Catholic. The irony of the moment struck me. Here I ran away from my Anabaptist History studies only to articulate (or at least attempt articulation) my religious heritage to a member of the church rejected by my ancestors. We had a very refreshing conversation.
Towards the end of our discussion a team of Mormon missionary maidens accosted us with free copies of the Book of Mormon. I finally experienced the receiving end of street evangelism. I actually enjoyed it–especially when I dropped the name Joseph Smith before they learned that I actually was not an ignorant heathen. The timid lasses were sweet enough, but we soon dismissed them and they went on their merry way. It’s hilarious. How often do you find Mormon damsels simultaneously instructing an Anabaptist and a Catholic in the ways of Christ (and Joseph Smith)?
Only in America…