I spent most of my adult years as an Army wife, following my husband around the world and generally trying to make wherever we landed a home. I, like many, have a plaque on my wall that sums it up. Home is Where the Army Sends You. Wherever we went, we met new people, forged new friendships and sought out whatever was unique and interesting about the area. I also worked outside of the home for nearly all of those years, which put me a bit outside the wives’ circles at times.
A popular activity were the Women of the Chapel groups, generally one for each major religious group. They seemed to have wonderful bonds with each other, went on interesting trips, held fund-raisers and generally did good things. Alas, they met while I was at work, so I never joined them, except for one seminar held over a weekend.
I don’t remember the details of who had invited me the retreat, but I was intrigued because it was to be held in a secluded forest. Excited to get away for some female bonding, I made the rounds of introductions upon arrival Friday evening.
The first activity the next morning was a full group bible study. I was brought up Catholic, and certainly have read the bible a time or two, and know some parts of it well. However, reading it on a daily basis has never been my habit, and I had a hard time even locating a copy in my rush to pack for the weekend. At this point I wish to claim the excuse that we moved every 1 ½ years, and some stuff just never got unpacked.
Anyway, I had finally found a small paperback copy of the New Testament, complete with a shiny plastic camouflaged cover, that my dear husband was issued on some deployment. Hey, that should fit right in with this group of Army wives!
That Saturday morning, I got to the meeting right at 8:01 and there, in a large circle, all the women had already taken their places. Okay, promptness counts. Noted. All eyes seemed to be fixated on me, in an awkward silence as I made my around to the single empty chair.
After a short prayer, the leader of the group announced the reading we were to discuss, and like thirty syncopated robots, the women flipped to the proper place in a fraction of a second. At this point, I noticed that each had a lap-filling bible with a customized, padded cover. They had multi-colored ribbons strategically marking chapters, which they used to magically open them into a nice flat surface with a three-foot wingspan.
They politely waited, while I opened my little paperback with an audible creak, then nervously tried to find the right place. Humiliated, I settled for a random page in the middle and smiled innocently. Of course, I had nothing to add to the discussion, and my random page made no difference when, holding the book open with an elbow as I reached for a pen, it leaped out of my lap in defiance.
No one said a word about it, and any judgment upon me was probably my imagination. I never did go back to any of these meetings, but my biblical embarrassment was not the reason why. I’ll leave that to my next blog.
©Tracey Enerson Wood All rights reserved.