Thoughts And Company

​We were walking, picking our way through a dusty road, and arguing, two bowed heads under the New Year Day’s sun, about what must have been said at the Cross-over Service at my church the night before. I didn’t hear what the Pastor said before the New Year thanksgiving offering was collected. My mind was, I like to think, on my phones which I had turned off and the many friends who would have tried calling me for the new year. Zainab said she’d heard the pastor say that offerings below a certain amount should not be given. She said she wasn’t sure how he’d said the words in Yoruba, Zainab having a quite limited grasp of the language. It was my church; he was my Pastor and though I didn’t hear what he said, he couldn’t have said that. He wasn’t one of those pastors who’d say that, I told Zainab, my words spiced with conviction. 
She said she could not be sure. I was relieved that she wasn’t: I was already bracing for the task of explaining how my church — a democratic system archetype — would have been outraged at such an utterance; and re-emphasizing how the Pastor wasn’t that kind of human who would say that.
I had been worried she would have insisted on what she said she had heard, then, we would have journeyed into our perceptions on faith on the wheels of tired arguments. And I’d have certainly been stuck somewhere, easily at a crucial moment in the exchange, because when I weigh words in my head during verbal arguments, I get distracted by the branching out of thoughts and the sudden new insights in familiar knowledge. So that, gradually, the importance of the argument outside, the one with Zainab for example, wanes and I am drawn into a local one that has become more interesting, where I am both participant and spectator. Then, I keep nodding obliviously at whatever my argument partner says. 
And because it is difficult to be misconstrued as having conceded to an important argument I no longer find interesting, it was a joy when Zainab figured she probably hadn’t understood the pastor’s words and that it was better we argued about why human calenders were designed around culture or gods.


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