Chapter Two - Digging Deeper With Harry
The next morning Pauline went to meet Satia at the coffee shop. Out of habit she checked the bulletin board. There was a very cryptic message that simply said “What are you reading today? And what are you doing about it?” This was getting too weird. She looked around, but as usual there were very few people in the shop and they were absorbed in their own magazines, computers, or newspapers. Satia appeared and chattered on about the trip she and her family had coming up, to visit friends in Phoenix. Phoenix was so hot and dry sometimes, and it would feel good on a day like this to go someplace warmer. But she and Tyler had traveled a lot during their long distance courtship, so they were content to stay home most of the time. And Pauline decided not to mention the guidebook or the strange book exchange. Satia didn’t seem to be a reader anyway. And she had read just the other day how 33% of people never pick up a book after high school, and 42% never pick one up after college. She could hardly believe it--she was certainly not one of those. She wondered again if she was too isolated. “Well, no wonder,” she said to herself. “Everything you like to do is solitary: crafts, reading, you need to make time and space for friends. Be a friend to have a friend, people say.” After an hour or so Satia excused herself and left, which gave Pauline another chance to look at the bulletin board. The note was still there and she took it and put it in her purse. She decided to drive past the building on 24th Street on the way home, as she was curious. As she passed, she saw Harry coming out and locking up. She tried to look away but he saw her and raised a hand in greeting. What was his deal?? It was interesting that this time he had two other people with him-two women. She realized that she knew one of them-Victoria from the hospital reception desk. How strange. The other, a younger woman, must have been someone rather like herself. Someone looking to books and strangers to fulfill her. Something was wrong with this expectation.
When she got home, she couldn’t stop thinking about Victoria. She called her and after some friendly conversation, just catching up, she asked “So where do you know Harry from?” Victoria gasped. “What do you mean?” “I guess you didn’t see me drive by on 24th Street when you were coming out of a building with him.” “How do YOU know him?” Victoria countered. “He is a very private person.” Pauline decided to tell all this time. “He put up a notice in a coffee shop about a book exchange. I went there and he was the only one there and he gave me a strange book, as if that was the only one I could have.” “What book?” Pauline suddenly was apprehensive. “I don’t remember the name of it. It just looks old.” Victoria sighed then. “So where do YOU know him from?” Victoria stated that she had begun talking to him at the hospital one day and they had become friends, albeit on a very limited level. “So what’s new with you,” Victoria asked, suddenly very chatty. “I haven’t seen you in forever.” “Oh-not much. Just busy with yard work. You must know how it is.” But the other woman would not relent. “Let’s get together for coffee soon, or shopping. Do you want to go Christmas shopping??” Pauline agreed to coffee, the following day. If she kept this up she would be all coffeed out. “May I invite Harry?” Victoria asked suddenly. “Sure, why not,” Pauline answered. In a public coffee shop where they knew her, she should be safe. Though-did they even know her name? Maybe she should be more friendly. Could she expect anyone to rescue her if she got in trouble?
The next morning Victoria showed up with Harry to meet Pauline. “Well!” he said. “Well! So nice to see you again.” “Nice to see you too, Harry,” Pauline responded. “What a surprise that you know my friend.” “I met her at the hospital,” explained Harry, confirming Victoria’s story, not that Pauline doubted her. “She was so helpful with directions when I went in for some tests,” he said. Well, that was almost too much information, thought Pauline. “I hope everything was all right,” she said. He did not reply but went on to ask, “So what are you reading today? And what are you doing about it?” Pauline startled. That was the exact wording of the note in her purse. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” she said. “Doing about it?” “I mean are you learning things? Taking action on any new ideas?” “I did clean up my yard and started exercising,” she said. Why am I telling him this? “That sounds good. That is the key to weight loss you know-exercise.” She bristled. How dare he suggest she needed to lose weight. She decided to let it go. “Can you believe what people eat sometimes? I saw a hot dog on Facebook today that was cut like an octopus, to appeal to children. How can anyone still eat hot dogs or feed them to their kids? There have been so many rumors, that they contain non-food parts of animals, that they contain carcinogens, and then there’s the nasty taste. Soy dogs are supposed to be healthier, but they taste even worse. How can people not like vegetables? And beans! I saw the most beautiful salad today.” Harry smiled. “But what are you reading?” Pauline snapped, “You should know what I’m reading. You gave it to me and I didn’t get a choice, either. What is that book supposed to be?” “It has your name in the title, doesn’t it? That should remove all doubt it is only for you.” “True,” said Pauline. “But where did it come from?” “No one really knows,” said Harry. “Oh, come on. There must be a publisher reference.” “Check it and see.” Pauline changed the subject. “What were you doing at the book exchange building yesterday? Do you have them on other nights too?” “Only if necessary. Not everyone can attend at the same time. People are so busy.” “How many other people do you have?” “Until everyone has just the book he needs, we will continue to distribute books.” “Victoria-did you get one?”
Victoria held up a volume, plainer than Pauline’s, but interesting just the same. “Mine is all about church work and relating to your children when they move far away.” That seemed like an odd combination of topics. Still, it did seem to fit Victoria pretty specifically.
“OK-I have a question. Harry, why do you keep posting things on the bulletin board? What is your objective here, and where did you come from? Are you with some kind of religious group? A secret society?”
Harry smiled. “It’s not a secret society. But there are things, pieces of knowledge, that have been lost from the history books. Secrets lost to the general population. A group of people has preserved these secrets. There are worlds that exist that we cannot see with our physical eyes. You will know if the information is for you if, when you read it, it draws you and if you want to believe it.” If there are really lost secrets, thought Pauline, she wanted to know about them. She had heard of the library of Alexandria which supposedly had contained many priceless and irreplaceable volumes. Its goal was to contain a copy of every book in the world. This magnificent library was tragically lost to fire, some say, when Julius Caesar set fire to his own ships in a strategic move, which thereby resulted in an irreversible loss of ancient, and supposedly some secret, information. That was just one of the theories. Wonder how many cookbooks were there, she wondered.
“Is that what’s in my book? Secrets?” asked Pauline. “The parts you need to know are there. If you learn them and need more, more will be provided,” said Harry. Pauline was annoyed. This was all so vague. She had been interested in this type of thing when she was younger, but that was before she knew of the Bible verses prohibiting divination, talking to spirits, doing witchcraft, or being a medium. In her experience the more mysterious and vague someone was, the more likely they were hiding something. For some reason, mysteries had drawn her and she wanted to believe in what they promised. But too many times they had disappointed her and not worked the way they were supposed to. And then the fact that the Bible prohibited such practices sealed the deal for her. Somehow it still drew her, but she could not get involved. She thought back. Her active interest in this had started in college, when she found a book of yoga postures with a little of the philosophy of it. She enjoyed the poses, but couldn’t accept the philosophy. Then there was the meditation class, and the man she met that belonged to a metaphysical club, the book about Hindu practices, the pendulum she became interested in as a child. The old college prof--Rob Rowe--had taken her class to the local pyramid construction and arranged for them to meditate inside. After that, she was able to attend seminars on pyramid power and the discoveries of Tesla. Most recently, a popular DVD about basically positive thinking. Sometimes the things she read just seemed like so much crap. How could anyone believe some of these things? She still thought it all went back to people wanting control of their own lives, and not wanting to submit to God. She used to feel that way, but had finally realized that if nothing else it was so much EASIER to submit and do it God’s way. Then the more she studied, the more she realized how everything fit together in God’s plan and she had the responsibility for a part of it. Harry then confessed something. “I really just started the book exchange to meet people. I’m so shy and yet I’m not interested in the typical men’s activities, sports and what have you. Finding the secret knowledge just came along as a bonus.”
It made sense why he seemed so odd. He really did appear to be a shy person. In the same way, sometimes she got tongue-tied and could not be spontaneous, so she fell back on the things she knew most about. “Harry, did you ever read the Bible?” she suddenly thought to ask him. “I think you might find there what you seek. We don’t need to control our own lives because God has it all planned out for each of us. All the jobs, and relationships, and finances. Everything. And he is so much more powerful than we are. I used to like the Hindu religion, but when I realized they believed I would have to keep coming back until I got everything right, whereas with the Bible none of us are perfect and Jesus takes care of paying the price for us, I thought I would be crazy not to accept Him. And now that I have, I feel so much more peace in my life. I know He is always with me. Do you have a Bible?”
He indicated that he did not. “Well when is your next book exchange? I would be honored to give you a Bible.” “I’m not sure,” he responded. “You will see it posted on the board here. I post everything my people need to know in this shop.”
My people, thought Pauline. This is sounding a bit like a cult. She needed to talk further to Victoria. Later. “I’ll watch for that!” Pauline answered, a little too brightly. She wanted to take someone with her next time. But this man definitely needed Jesus. How could she be a closer friend to him? Victoria could probably help and if Tyler would come along she would feel a lot safer. Witnessing is scary sometimes, but so amazing when you reached someone for Christ.
“So what can I hope to learn from my book? It seems to be on a lot of different topics. Do I need that much help?”
Harry replied, “You are astute. You are like a butterfly, floating from one topic to another. If you gave yourself time to focus, you would learn much.”
Victoria added, “If you want we can get together tomorrow and read together and discuss it. I know that would really help me.” Pauline agreed but she had much to think & pray about. “Until tomorrow then!” she said.
Focus, he’d said. She knew she could improve in that area. What was this guy selling? When she went to sleep that night, she had an unusual dream. She was in the back of a small auditorium, and there was a strange humming noise in the background, that she realized was coming from the other people in the room. She had the feeling it was some kind of religious cult meeting, and they wanted her to join their group. The dream startled her so much she fell out of bed when she awoke. That’s so annoying, she thought, rubbing her head. Was Harry in a cult? He certainly was different. Pauline wasn’t sure what to do. When she prayed, God brought to her mind the verse where Jesus said I will never leave you or forsake you. That made her think of all the religious leaders who have died. Jesus however returned from death to claim us for His own. No other religion can say that. But some would not accept the Gospel, and God blinded their eyes and stopped their ears against it. Did He know that they would not accept it, so blocked them, or did He block them because they were not chosen? Some faiths believed in being chosen before one’s birth, so how could they choose for themselves? This passage from Romans alludes to that: Romans 8:28-30, New International Version (NIV).
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Those who were not chosen would then theoretically not care about the things of God. This passage from John 12 says: 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn-and I would heal them.”[i]
Others believed it was up to us to accept Jesus or not. Ephesians 2 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” So we DO have to have faith in Christ, by choice. Would she ever be able to reach Harry, or should someone else?
Pauline decided to tweak the back yard a little more and create another rock pile. She moved 5 more stones from around the yard and piled them up at the corner of the patio. Perhaps they would make that into a fountain. She noticed something on one of the rocks while moving it. It almost looked like those petroglyphs they had seen in Arizona, made by native Americans many years ago. There were three wavy lines, which meant a river. Interesting. That was all there was on the rock. She looked around for other drawings, but found none. Maybe she should take a walk along the creek.