Sunday, June 26, 2011

People in Cars

Today my Facebook friend Shari wrote about visiting a Mennonite church, I assume near her home in Arkansas. She says

At dismissal, everyone stood up and just started visiting with their neighbors, not even congregating in the aisle as we are used to.

That's definitely what it's like at Brownsville Mennonite. People turn around, talk with people behind them, wander forward or back to talk with a specific person, join a group, leave it and join a different group, hold a new baby, return a borrowed item, hand out food assignments for a special-meeting dinner, talk with a child's friend's mom to see if it's for sure ok if your child comes over for the afternoon.

It seems like everyone does this, all the time. Including me.

But sometimes I go through days or seasons where I can't face the after-church socializing. And I head for the car as soon as the service is over. Well, almost. First I have to get my mail and give Dakota those two books on animals that I promised him and shake the preacher's hand and pick up the Sunday school money. Then I head for the car.

Right now I suddenly find myself in a fragile season where I can't handle the visiting that I normally am an eager part of. And no, I can't share the reason, which doesn't really matter anyhow.

I'm making this discovery: there's a whole subset of Mennonites that I wasn't aware of: Those Who Sit In Cars After Church. I left as soon as I could get away and hopped in the Kia and opened the windows because it was actually hot, a new experience in these parts, and then I glanced over and there was "Ralph" sitting in the car beside me, looking amused.

Then I looked further and behold, there was "Ethel" sitting in her car, looking sad, and "Jason" sneaking furtively out of the double doors and toward his car.

I thought, who are these people, really, and do they always slip out as soon as the service is over and wait for their healthier and more gregarious family members, and I never knew because I was always busy talking, and do they have Deep Unmet Soul Needs The Church Should Address?

Maybe we PICs should form our own little club. We could slip out and meet in someone's van and have iced tea and cookies that I would pack in the morning, and we could talk, or not, as we felt like it, and then when the talkative people started coming out of the building we could slip back to our own cars. We would have plenty of time for this, because the talkers always have to stop on the sidewalk and talk to one more person for a few more minutes.

I know what takes me to the car right after church, but I wonder about the others--how long have they done this, would it help to talk about it, what does it take to be integrated back into the Talkers After Church? Or is it ok if they remain PICs?

Quote of the Day:
"Mom! Didn't you hear what I said?? Didn't you think it was funny?? You didn't laugh or quote of the day it or anything!!"


  1. do i live with the person that was sitting in a car? lol

  2. I think you are right that sometimes "pic" are experiencing a fragile season or a deeper wound. I also believe that some people naturally avoid crowds or are the private sort that don't have much to say in a group/public setting, but appreciate a quieter acknowledgement of their existence that doesn't expect a response from them.

    I'm glad you know the cause of your fragile time and are taking care of yourself! That is so important!

  3. As one who helps run a sizable family business, my job is dealing with customers and interacting with people all week. Sundays is my day of rest, and part of that “rest” is not being required to interact with a lot of people. I might spend a few moments socializing, lest the people think I am “stuck-up”, but then it is “to the car”. I enjoy sitting in the car, reading the contents of our church mailbox, like the "Sword and Trumpet", or the material from Christian Light Publications.

  4. Thanks for linking to my blog!
    I was a PIC as a teen. I mainly just felt like I didn't have anything to add to the conversations. My dad was a talker, so we couldn't leave until he was done, and there was nothing else to do but sit in the car. I think my mom tried to use sitting in the car as a passive-aggressive way to make my dad hurry up, but it never worked.
    Now I just stay with my husband, listening while he talks and leaving when he's done. If it gets too boring I watch the children play tag in the yard; no more PIC for me. :-)
    Sorry to hear you are feeling fragile - will be praying for you.

  5. Sometimes I am one of those PIC's...sometimes, I just don't feel like socializing or making conversation. If I had a difficult week, sometimes that's just one more 'job' to do...other times, it cheers me up to talk to people. I go in stages and when I see PIC's, I usually figure they're in one of those stages, too. :)

  6. Arlene--does Dennis look like a "Ralph"???
    Thanks, everyone, for your insightful comments.

  7. I've been one of those "PIC'S. Usually I'm going thro a hard time in my personal life,or sometimes the conversation just doesn't flow w others.As you well know, my husband is usually one of the last ones out the doors,and even then he'll find a conversation in a parking lot:) So rather than feel lonely or jealous(ok,maybe a little), I choose to wait patiently in the car!Well written,Dorcas! Verna

  8. oh my, this is so timely.... i have found myself being one of these "pic"s more lately too. i think there's just a lot of stuff going in a lot of people's lives right now, and sometimes being at church just isn't restful or comfortable. sometimes i would rather go out and sit and be comfortable in the car, and then if someone really wants to talk to me, they can come to the car and i don't have to deal with ten people at once. :-)

  9. Dorcas, my dear friend... How I understand...... *I*

  10. my husband is a PIC if he has the car keys...otherwise he just waits outside somewhere away from most of the people. I'm the gregarious one. He's the opposite.
    But sometimes I just head for the car and I know that I won't have to wait long.
    And there are seasons when it is easier NOT to talk. Mom and Auntie are avoiding church a bit 'cause the husbands have died and it's just too much right now.

  11. i can certainly identify with the people in cars! Sometimes it is overwhelming to visit politely during seasons of prolonged grief and pain. Just going to church takes so much emotional strength!!
    It is nice if someone sends a note if they sense a time that a friend is very fragile.
    I have experienced so many times of real grief and the written notes are so encouraging.
    Mary Yoder

  12. Sometimes I feel quiet, Dorcas. My equivalent would be SICATO (sit in chair and type only - my day job), not joining the social network at the cyberspace equivalent of the water cooler (Facebook) and being still in the blogosphere. This post reminds me of the need to be sensitive to others who are in a quiet season for whatever reason. Thank you.

  13. I can so well identify with Shari! My hubby is a very sociable fellow who somehow has a "Need for People". So I try to gamely go with the flow and find someone with whom to visit after church. And also try to talk with visitors and make them feel welcome. Quite often, I just stay with him for awhile, before braving The People. :) But when I am carrying some inner pain, sometimes I just don't have the energy to spend time with people, so as soon as I can gracefully get away, I will slip out to the van and wait.
    But being naturally shy, I don't allow myself to make a habit of that, or I would very soon be taken for reclusive. -PC in VA