I’m sitting in the second-best coffee shop on Route 66 (Kix in Tucumcari; the best is the Ludlow Cafe, but the middle of the Mojave Desert is out of my weekend-getaway range), mulling over one word from a Facebook conversation with an old friend I haven’t seen since fifth grade.
We exchanged a flurry of meaningless hey-how’ve-you-beens and good-to-hear-from-yous, and then she peppered me with questions about my adventures of the past 25 years. (Funny, the way we can reduce a quarter-century of living to a few sentences hurriedly punched into a temperamental iPhone knockoff between sips of truck-stop coffee.)
After texting enthusiastic responses to a few questions, I shook off my own self-absorption long enough to realize that my friend had been strikingly quiet about the details of her own life. “So … what have you been up to?” I finally asked.
She briefly filled me in on her career, location, and the fact that she was a lesbian.
“Hence the caution,” I thought. “She had to know I was still the sort of person who chooses friends for their ability to make me laugh or think or smile, rather than their ability to fit whatever expectations the world has for them.”
And then she spoke, ever so briefly, about coming out — not an easy task for a preacher’s kid studying to follow her father into ministry — and in a couple of brief sentences, she said she’d tried to be straight but finally decided she didn’t need someone else’s tradition to tell her who she was.
When did the goofy kid who sat behind me in Mr. Little’s class become a sage?
The whole problem with society, I think, is our relative inability to distinguish between Scripture and tradition. Do we believe what we believe because it’s true, because we’ve prayed it through and studied and made it our own, or because someone else expects us to believe it, and it’s just easier to go along and not disappoint anybody?
It’s an interesting question, and one I’ve got 400 miles to consider this afternoon.
More when I get back to Tulsa….