Since Quilly was kind enough to
Siri sat at her computer, stunned by the vitriol in the e-mail she was reading. She had sent a request to be removed from a mailing list the evening before. It was a fairly standard request these days when e-mails piled up faster than she could read them. In the request, Siri had referenced that the church directory was the possible source of the conflict since the only intersection of their lives were that they attended the same church.
The reply read:
I would never purposefully send e-mails to the likes of you. I have not seen a church directory in years. Any electronic one goes straight to my spam folder. I do not know how my business and personal e-mails synced to include you.
Remove my e-mail, my families’ e-mail, and any other contact info you have for me from all of your contacts. I would not have included you in my contacts. Trust me.
“Wow,” she muttered. “This woman needs meds.” Siri sat back and reflected on her contacts with this woman over the years wondering what might have prompted this animosity.
When Siri first started attending the church six years prior, she had made a point of meeting as many people as she could. She had introduced herself to the woman one Sunday. The woman, childless at the time, asked where Siri’s children went to school. Siri named a particular local Christian school. The woman said, “Oh” and turned away. Siri was told later that the woman and her family ran a for-profit Christian school near the church.
From that moment on, Siri could not remember a time that the woman had been friendly or even interactive. If there had been momentary conversations forced upon them by circumstances, they had been innocuous enough to be forgettable.
In the fatuity of her Christian cocoon, Siri had moved on to people more friendly and helpful. There was no need to compose a jeremiad regarding lack of contact with one member of the congregation. Everyone else was friendly and relaxed.
The family kept themselves very distant from the rest of the congregation as well. They always entered church late, with the husband leading the procession like a panjandrum. Because she was on the worship team and felt joy when she noticed people who were worshiping in song, Siri had noticed they did not join in the music unless it was an “old” hymn. “Perhaps they are traditionalists,” Siri had thought, and then thought no more about it.
Siri also helped in nursery, taught Sunday School, and led the children’s church services when needed. The family’s two children had never participated in any of these activities. They always sat between their parents, hands folded, and eyes straight ahead. Siri thought it was odd, but recognized that different families have different ideas of children’s roles in church. She herself had struggled with the idea of providing children coloring pages for the days that there was no children’s church service – thinking that once a month the children could learn how to participate by emulating their parents – but Siri’s children were pretty compliant. She knew that some of the bouncier children in the congregation might be more of a distraction if their parents didn’t allow them to color and do the puzzles quietly. So she conceded that different parenting styles dictate different rules for children.
But Siri had also been involved in setting up women’s retreats and prayer events. She always included the woman in the invitations, but the woman had never responded or attended. “Oh!” Siri thought as the light bulb went on in her mind. “That must be where the contact came from on my end – the list the Womens Ministry director gave me for the invitation list last December!”
That didn’t explain how it synced with the woman’s business e-mail, but these days, who could keep track of which pieces of software were talking to others? As Siri thought more about the whole situation, she realized the absurdity of it. This was a woman who was either herself, very troubled, or was in a marriage that was very rigid and it had affected the woman’s judgment.
“Darn it!” thought Siri. “I want to be judgmental and harsh but you’re giving me a picture of a woman who needs compassion, Lord! I know what I need to do.”
So before she composed an e-mail back, apologizing for leaping to a conclusion about the church directory, Siri bowed her head in prayer.