Arnold loves ice cream. I’m not sure if Arnold appreciated my friendship or the ice cream more.
When I was the chaplain at a halfway house, it was as if Arnold were waiting for my arrival. Sometimes he would call to find out when I was coming in next. If I missed a few days, he would ask staff if they knew when I would be coming.
My role involved meeting with men and sometimes we would go out for a coffee or an ice cream. Inevitably, small talk with Arnold would lead to an excursion to one of several local ice-creameries. Arnold was also diabetic, but assured me that this one would not hurt.
After awhile I began to notice that Arnold was only too happy to take up as much of my time as I was willing to give. He always found a way to be first in line to see me. Sometimes, I felt that I needed to spread myself out to visit with more of the men. But Arnold would end up getting the most attention.
Is there an Arnold in your life? I’ve had several and I’m okay with that. There are people who seem oblivious to social cues and conventions. They believe that nothing is more important to you than being with them and hearing what’s on their mind. They ignore closed doors, cars ready to pull away and whatever priorities you have naively set in motion before they showed up.
More conscientious people have sensitivity to the demands of time they place on others. They think about the other people around them who also want ice cream and step back so others can go. But not Arnold…
We can learn something valuable from these friends. They believe in the open door and offer undying loyalty because we do not shoo them away.
Before we cross to the other side of the street or pretend to be on the phone, we should consider the constant interruptions that faced Jesus. He took lots of time to deal with the schedule intruders and had equal freedom to walk away from the demanding crowds.
Jesus told this story which reminds me very much of the Arnolds I’ve known and met.
Do you have some ‘friends’ like that? They show up at inopportune times and assume that you can respond. Or maybe, they have already knocked on five other doors and they are getting desperate. Whichever the case, the door keeps pounding.
Even with our closest friends, we may set limits on when it is appropriate to call, visit or make a request. We may even distance ourselves from people that ask too much.
But, these people are persistent. You may be tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but they will not let that happen. Eventually, you are faced with their dilemma and are moved to respond.
So why does Jesus tell the story?