Today is the fourth Sunday I have been here at Rahab’s Corner. Today the tobacco-auction-style intercessory praying is anything but amusing. It feels like someone is taking a jackhammer to my head. I love people, love being around them until I don’t. When I don’t, I really don’t. Today is one of those days. Too bad for me that needing space falls on a Sunday when activity and decibels at the Corner rise exponentially. Africans, according to Uncle Jumah, pastor of the Pentecostal Church here at Rahab’s Corner don’t feel their joyful noise is enough unless it’s as loud a possible. This particular Sunday, I’m praying for a little solitude.
Since the African congregation wants loud they get it. Car alarms go off when the preaching is particularly passionate. Despite the distance of roughly a football field away and doors, windows, and curtains closed the intercessory prayer sounds as if the intercessor was shouting from the end of my bed. Oh, Lord, I hope you can hear. Even the melodious piano riff in the background is tooth achingly loud, thanks to the rock concert capability of the church’s sound system. Even the beautiful voices of the choir have wormed their way into my brain echoing around in the emptiness and causing me to reach for my noise-canceling earphones. The phones put some much-needed distance between me and the service.
Needing some time and space to myself, I fear, hurts my minder Peace’s feelings. My mercurial temperament has more to do with how much I enjoy people and my inability to monitor my need for space. It creeps up on me like bankruptcy did on Mike Campbell in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, “gradually then suddenly,” taking me and everyone around me by surprise. African’s, I have found, are so hospitable and take such pride in being gracious that a need for some space can be taken as a personal affront when all I really want is a little solitude.