overheard conversations – volume two


Yesterday a friend wrote, talking about ten years ago and the way it was different in her eyes than mine. Of the way I’ve focused on the bitter weeds and so few of the flowers. She was there, too, and what she saw was so much the same and so vastly different, because what I felt as bondage she saw as security, what I found wounding was something she longed for, wished for, wept for in the open air on cold nights. Perhaps a glass house, easily shattered, is better than no house at all?


They’re talking about the bombing, while the hunt is on for the 19 year old and all of Boston has locked its doors. I’m waiting for my coffee and a girl with blonde hair leans across her table behind me, saying it’s true, that Muslims are enemies of America, that we need to be on the watch, that their languages shouldn’t be spoken on our shores. My heart has been breaking for the city all week, praying for safety and comfort and wishing for justice. But all I can think about in the coffee shop is my uncle’s mother in her hijab, the softness of her milky hands and the way she ran her fingers through my tiny cousin’s hair. I’m remembering the week we stood in a cluster as they buried my uncle with his face turned east, the men dropping handfuls of sod over his lowered casket. Women had been cooking for days, filling the kitchen with spicy Syrian meals, loving my aunt and my cousin with food, the way we do. I’m remembering the woman I met last month, sitting across an airplane aisle, a retired gynecologist from Texas and before that, Pakistan. We told stories of motherhood, three children each, and she told me it gets easier, there won’t be any diapers eventually and they’ll grow up to become my friends if I let them feel deeply loved while they’re small. She pulled her veil closer to her forehead with one hand and placed the other atop the hand of her sleeping husband, rested on her thigh. I never once thought to name either one my enemy.


He sat down, stood up, ordered coffee, switched tables, scanned the room. He carried a book by C.S. Lewis but held it open in his hands and watched the door. She walked in ten minutes later and he stood and smiled but they didn’t hug. Good to meet you, face to face, this is so great.

She casually mentioned her church and he did, too. Then my friend had to leave so I was eavesdropping when he asked if she “was a theological person.” She said she was, at least more than the average person, and they spent an hour hashing Calvinism and salvation by grace and her reformed church and his Catholic background and homeschooling and their mission trips and whether or not short-term projects are helpful or absolutely futile.

I wanted to laugh so I bit my cheek because, after all, the day I met John we sat in a church foyer and talked for three hours about Bible college and church choirs and homeschooling versus public schools.

I was skeptical about the romance here, tonight, but an hour later there’s chemistry and they just set up a second date.


Read Overheard Conversations, Volume One.

I live-tweeted the amusing first-date scene above. Follow me over there?



5 Responses to overheard conversations – volume two

  1. the Blah Blah Blahger April 22, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    I love your perspective on the world and what things you pick up on!

  2. Jessi April 21, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Do you ever think you’re just as harsh and judgemental now as you were “10 years ago” it’s just that now you’ve swapped out the group of people you’re judging? I don’t mean that in as mean a way as it sounds, because I get highly annoyed over people
    Who are obsessed with theology and following all the rules, but at the same time, they are people too, and they have a right to their opinions and preferences just like we do. Who are we to make a ruling on what type of conversation they choose for their first date? What we may think is pretentious and legalistic, may help them feel that spark of connection to one another. I guess what I’m saying is everyone is different, and just because you look back on your past fundamentalist days with regret doesn’t mean everyone does. Personally I’m torn over thinking there was some good and some bad in the way I was raised. It doesn’t sound like my childhood was quote as strict as yours, so maybe I’m coming from a completely different place, but I sometimes feel from your posts that you have a special scorn for anyone who would believes in anything other than completely open minded Christianity. I don’t mean for this to come off as an accusation, I guess I’m just wondering out loud, how would those two people, apparently on a blind date, have felt to know you we’re sitting just behind them, mocking them to your whole group of social media? Maybe they were self important enough to not care, and just write you off as “one of those sinful social media people.” Or maybe they weren’t as bad as they sounded and they were just trying to pump themselves up with importance so they would look impressive for a nerve wracking blind date. These are all just conjectures on my part, I have no idea of the hearts of these two people…
    Ok, I’m sorry for such a long and rambling comment, I’ll stop now!

    • Ashleigh April 22, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      Hi Jessi. I like long, rambly comments. I’m in the mood for discussion these days.

      Yeah, I do think I’m judgey toward the fundamentalist mindset and I don’t like that ugly reality. I think it’s natural, when one has been deeply wounded by a person, event, movement, or situation, to view everything surrounding it negatively, you know? Pendulums are relentless in their swinging. The added twist for me is that I was actively blogging my life when my wounding occurred, so my messy journey has been well documented. I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging this year for that very reason; I needed to work through my life in the quiet for a while.

      I agree with you that each of us has a right to our opinions, whatever they are in each season (hence my thoughts earlier this week on “owning my words”) and I’ve struggled to remember that when looking at my former self and people who are currently promoting similar paradigms. But I hope I’m learning, step by step, to give more breadth and well-wishes to my fellow travelers, realizing we’re each at our own mile marker on this spiritual journey.

      I’m not usually afraid to call out spiritually harmful ideas about God, but hey, my definition of spiritually harmful is based heavily on my understanding of God, the Bible and my own experience. I guess even that is subjective, right? And so we all learn to walk on, with a bit more gentility and peace.

      Oh, and about that couple. Maybe I worded it poorly, but I thought them cute and amusing more than anything. After all, John and I did much the same thing and many of my friends would think themselves in dating heaven if it had been them. ;)

      • Jessi April 24, 2013 at 11:22 am #

        Thanks for your thoughtful response Ashleigh!
        I understand more where you’re coming from….sort of like you were laughing with them, not at them. I guess I just feel sensitive about people like that, because my younger brother and his wife sound a lot like that couple. They love to discuss theology and spiritual buzz words, and rules, and for the most part it drives me crazy! So, maybe this post hit a touchy spot because I see myself in it! I’m kind of in a disillusioned/cynical place in my life right now, so I have a hard time stomaching lots of different types of spiritual speak. I try to tell myself that’s my problem though, and I shouldn’t put the blame on people that genuinely enjoy talking that way. Although I feel like I have a pretty good gut feeling for who is sincere and who is just talking to earn “good christian points” and pats on the back from other Christians. But that’s just no way for me to live…God knows their hearts, so I guess I just need to chill out….can you tell it’s something I struggle with? Haha.
        Also, I have been reading your blog since (if I remember correctly) right before you had your second little boy, so I have seen “fundamentalist blogger” Ashleigh, all the way up to who you are now…I guess with your posts over the last year or so I’ve begun to feel like you look back on your old self with disgust….but old Ashleigh wasn’t all bad, cut her some slack! :) Not that I really knew/know you personally, just your blog posts, and I enjoyed them then and now. I’m sorry about all you and your family have gone through, I used to read your mom’s blog, and it broke my heart to read about everything that happened. I totally understand how things like that can make you want to just start all over again and distance yourself from the past (and the people and lifestyle of the past). I’m kind of going through a rough spot with the church and just Christians in general….since I’m a believer myself, I probably shouldn’t dislike fellow Christians so much, but sometimes we are the hardest people to love! And I like what you said about “spiritually harmful,” it is so subjective! I think our own personal experiences do have so much to do with defining what is spiritually harmful or beneficial for each and everyone of us. So amen, may we all walk on “with a bit more gentility and peace!”
        Thanks for discussing with me!

  3. Megan (FriedOkra) April 21, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    You have amazing ears and an even more amazing heart (and mind). Love you.

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