This is a memory of a memory, but it is no less true than a dream or a nightmare
even though the building in which it was said has been torn down and bulldozed,
a disturbing but downright actual event I can prove at two town halls. But the story here is
about what exists after there is no physical place and the people involved have moved away
or passed on. The story is about memory, for what it's worth.
The setting was a Bible study, in a pale green room, which is no longer there, either.
Twelve women, myself included, sat in a large, loose circle
with a table of refreshments in the center: coffee, tea, fruit, bagels, cheese and crackers,
and cake. We met Friday mornings for 2 1/2 hours, after individual daily reading and study, for 32 weeks.
(My philosophy is any meeting lasting longer than thirty minutes should have plenty of food.
Even then, some cookies and chewy brownies wouldn't hurt.)
Though held in a Methodist church, most of us came from mixed religious
backgrounds. Because there was only one pastor, he had no extra time;
I was new, curious to learn, plus persistent, so the church paid for me to go to training seminars
to become the "leader". Talk about blind leading the blind.
I was going through some difficult times; looking back, we all were.
I coped with it by doing this grueling Bible study, and holding on to my odd
sense of humor, which took the form of spontaneously reading the Scripture aloud,
mimicking Martin Luther King. Don't ask me why...I just would launch into it.
I guess it worked as a tension release, because everyone would laugh.
One week, we were discussing redemption and death bed conversions,
among other topics of faith and works. As the remarks got more heated,
one of the quieter members who had been raised half Catholic/ half Southern Baptist,
with a later-in-life touch of New Age beliefs, raised her voice
and pronounced, "If Hitler's in Heaven, then I don't want to go !!!"
Instant shock wave and everyone looked towards me to deal with the situation.
Knowing on a gut level that Dr. King would not defuse this bomb,
I pulled out an imaginary banjo
and sang in my best country and western voice,
while strumming, "If Hitler's in Heaven, then I don't wanna go..."