Rune Rofke - Glenn Emery
I’ve decided to volunteer at the Red Cross. I use one of their white Chevy station wagons to transport paraplegics to their physical therapy sessions. It provides me a tiny bit of spiritual fulfillment, serving people who really need my help. But I can’t really witness to them. None of them could join if they wanted to. But I like hanging out with the other volunteers. Most of them are retirees. We sit in the break room and drink black coffee and talk about the weather and politics. They are curious why a young man like me has so much time on his hands that he can volunteer at the Red Cross a couple mornings a week, but they don’t ask too many questions. They’re just grateful I’m there.
I arrived at the chapter house this morning to find the Red Cross was closed. Then I realized it was Memorial Day. So I wandered over to the library, hoping to meet someone to witness to. I didn’t find anyone interesting so I took a nap on the lawn in the sun. It was so soothing and warm. I knew I should be witnessing or fundraising or doing something productive, but for a little while I allowed myself the luxury of doing absolutely nothing and enjoying the rare solitude.
While I was lying in the fragrant grass, the image of Nina’s perfect nude body floated on my eyelids. I feel weird every time I see her. I’d be mortified if she or anyone ever found out what I did. I know I should repent, but I don’t regret what happened. I’m glad I saw her naked. She was beautiful -- heavenly -- just like Eve in the Garden of Eden. I can’t feel guilty about my sincere appreciation of the naked female form. God made it very appealing to look at, and I for one think He did a perfect job with Nina. I wholeheartedly approve.
Luckily, there’s no possibility of anything like that happening again. Greg returned a couple days later and patched up the hole and retiled the bath and thereby removed any further possible temptation. I am grateful for that too. Once was enough.
Since the beginning of the year we’ve had new witnessing direction from Father. Instead of trying to persuade strangers on street corners to join, we’re to adopt whole residential neighborhoods as our spiritual responsibility. It’s called “Home Church.” Our mission now is to live in those neighborhoods, visit all the people who live there, get to know them, serve them as best we can, and eventually witness to them and teach them the Principle. No one has to move into the center or join MFT. Those days are past. The goal now is simply to teach as many people about Divine Principle and True Parents as possible.
It’s still a tall order. Most people are extremely negative toward the church. But the new directive makes me hopeful anyway. I’ve already met some elderly people in my Home Church area who seem very receptive, and with enough time and effort, I feel confident I can make it work. The area I’ve adopted is in Broad Ripple, a section of affluent older homes just a few blocks north of the center. I figure if I’m going to live someplace for the rest of my life, I’d rather it be where people have money.
Until now we haven’t had much time to do Home Church. I got out a few times during the winter and shoveled snow for people in my area, but that was about it. Springtime is the first real opportunity I’ve had to introduce myself and try to get to know some people. What I’ve learned almost right away is that my path into this community -- my Home Church -- will come first through elderly residents. They are most in need of the physical labor I can offer. And they are extremely lonely. They long for human contact. Almost invariably they welcome me into their homes without knowing who I am. They desperately want and need love.
Around noon I got up from my nap on the library lawn and took the bus up to Broad Ripple. I figured I’d use the time to visit my Home Church area. My first stop was Dr. Masters. But he was on his way out and didn’t need any help. So I went over to the Ransels. A few weeks ago I had put in a garden for them. Thank God for all the hours my dad had me out working his garden in Dover when I was a kid. I didn’t care for it much then, but all that practical experience was coming in handy in my Home Church. Mrs. Ransel was so worried that she was taking advantage of me, but I tried to make it very clear that it was my choice to help her. She need not feel guilty or that she owed me anything.
Of course, Mrs. Ransel found a way to pay me. She started lending me interesting books to read, historical novels. I just finished one about Marco Polo that was fascinating, and before that she gave me one about George Rogers Clark. Some of his story, especially the Battle of Vincennes, was right here in Indiana. It was so interesting how he tricked the British into surrendering without firing a shot. This sort of knowledge just makes me want to learn more about history. Ordinary people who profoundly affect the future because of some seemingly random choices they make. That fascinates me.
I see the deep satisfaction on Mrs. Ransel's face when I return a book and we talk about it and she can tell I actually read it and absorbed it. Then she goes rushing to the bookshelf and pulls out another and shoves it into my hands.
But on this day the Ransels were not home. So I went over to the Porters. He is a former tax attorney, but both he and his wife are invalids now and growing senile. Apparently they have plenty of money though, because they have a full-time nurse who cooks for them and takes care of them during the day.
They wanted to hire me as a nurse too, to help them bathe and so forth. They even have a lift installed on their stairs to take them up and down. I talked it over with Carl and we both agreed it probably wouldn’t be a good idea because the Porters would end up taking up all of my time and the rest my Home Church area would suffer. So I told them no. They were very disappointed, but I couldn’t help it. Besides, I really didn’t want to. I knew it just wouldn’t work out. But I promised to keep coming to see them, and that seemed to make them happy.
On this Memorial Day the Porters were where I always will remember them: dressed in plush bathrobes in front of the TV watching game shows, with glass patio doors behind them. Just beyond, in the yard, a small flower garden had worked up a full head of steam and was trying very, very hard to get their attention. But they were too engrossed in “Let’s Make a Deal” to notice or care. A black woman was in the kitchen making their lunch. I sat and chatted with them awhile, but their minds were too feeble to have a real conversation. I think Mr. Porter already has one foot in the spirit world. Most of what he says to me makes no sense.
I stayed only a short time with the Porters, said goodbye, and then went over to the Clingmans. They were surprised to see me, being that it was a holiday, but I assured them I had no obligations and was eager to help if they had any work to do. So they asked me if I’d be willing to take out their storm windows and put in the screens, which I said I would.
Mrs. Clingman had been out of town for a week or so, I think to visit her sister, and just got back this morning. I never thought about elderly people having sex, but as I was outside taking down the storm windows on the dining room I heard Mr. Clingman say to his wife, “Wanna roll in the hay, little girl?” Judging by the girlish giggle, I’m guessing she did.
When I was done, they invited me inside. Mr. Clingman seemed especially jovial, and Mrs. Clingman, a short, round woman, was her usual cheerful self. I like them both very much, and they like me. They gave me lemonade and asked me questions about the church. They were neither for nor against. I guess they felt if the Unification Church could inspire someone like me to come to help old people like them and not ask for anything in return, then the least they could do was listen to what I had to say. And that’s all I wanted.
I’d been in the Clingmans’ house before, but it always unnerved me. Their living room and dining room were filled with dolls. Not just any dolls. Expensive ones. Alexanders. Antiques. Occupying every square inch. Some sat it antique high chairs. Others sat in children’s chairs. The rest filled up the sofa and chairs and shelves and mantel and tables. I don’t mind saying it was one of the creepiest things I’ve ever experienced. It was like a thousand tiny, unblinking porcelain eyes staring at you from every direction.
I harbored no illusions the Clingmans were going to join the Unification Church. That was absurd. They just wanted to know why I was in it, so I told them the one point that even in my most difficult struggles always resonated with me: Jesus didn’t come to die. On this one point I was absolutely convinced that Christianity had it wrong. The crucifixion was a mistake. I spent about 20 minutes explaining it, focusing mostly on the Bible passages about John the Baptist and why he was supposed to be Jesus’ first disciple. They agreed that what I said was perfectly logical and made sense, and I figured that was probably the best I could hope for.
By now it was getting late and I needed to get home for dinner. I said goodbye. As I turned to leave, I felt a thousand porcelain eyes push me out the door.