I have a bit of a memory problem, and as such, large chunks of time will simply vanish from my mind until dislodged by some random bit of association. As a result, the timeline of these posts is likely to be a bit scattershot. I will now tell you of the one person I’ve ever known who both wore her Christian faith on her sleeve and was every bit the “good Christian” that they all seem to claim to be.
In early 2001, I found what I truly consider to be my first “real” job. I was working as, basically, technical support for the business-to-business web site of a decently sizable banking institution. I was single, out of school and the schedule was lovely: 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Best of all, pay was semi-monthly, meaning that I was paid on the 15th and the last day of each month. This meant that it was simple to set up automatic payments for most of my bills and know that the money would be there. All in all, things were pretty good.
It was a big place, which meant my contacts were mostly limited to members of my own department. One of these was a woman, named Marcia. Contrary to the urgings of the Peanuts center of my brain, this was pronounced as “Mar-see-ah.” She was a black woman, looked to be in her early forties, and rather strikingly defied the walking stereotypes that were on display around the floor. I realize that sounds terrible, but I’ve always felt that if one dislikes stereotypes, one should actively work to prove them wrong, rather than legislate them out of existence. At any rate, Marcia had something of an “Aunt May” sort of vibe to her, though certainly not that old. She did have reading glasses and I recall that she did like the little shawls, though.
Marcia was a very unassuming woman. She was soft-spoken, nice to everyone she met (that I knew of), and simply of a gentle disposition. If office politics were getting to me, she was the one I could speak to for some perspective and a friendly ear. She knew my beliefs and never judged me for them. Her desk was not ostentatiously decorated. She had some pictures of her kids, one Christian devotional quote thingy (one that was of particular significance to her), and that was it. She wore a very simple cross around her neck.
She never presumed to call herself a good Christian. In fact, she never spoke of her faith at all, unless asked. She didn’t even allude to Christianity, other than in the literary sense (suggesting I “extend the olive branch” to someone with whom I was at odds, for some reason or another). I always admired her, and in a maternal sort of way, I think I kind of loved her. She was, in a very real sense, the kind of woman I wished my mother was: always warm and open, non-judgmental and willing to listen. I wish I had not lost contact with her.
I dare say, if all Christians were like Marcia, then the world would genuinely be a better place. There would be no need for the “New Atheist” movement. Perhaps we could still attempt to live and let live. But sadly, I don’t think there is any going back.