The brass knocker rapped.
He got up from his zafu, bowed to the cushion and walked to the door. He opened it to find two fine young men in white shirts, name tags, ties and hair that was perfectly perfect.
“Hello Sir, we are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
He held his finger up to stop them, and he did so without one ounce of force.
Cheerfully he chirped. “I’ve been expecting you! Come in!”
The two young mormon missionaries looked at each other.
“Oh, it’s no big deal, he said, I get three such visits a year. So I expect them in Utah.”
They walked past the shabby door and beheld a simple home. There was a meditation zafu on a pad against the wall. The kitchen table was wooden, worn out and used back to fashionable status. The Japanese call this “wabi-sabi” and one of the missionaries couldn’t take his eyes off of it.
The dishes were old. The glass on the table was washed so many times that it was no longer clear.
No tv. No radio. No computer. But there seemed to be a place where each one was at one time. A book case was on the wall and on it was one book – a tattered old copy of the Tao Te Ching.
He fixed them tea. They refused when they realized it was tea.
“I’m sorry,” he said laughingly.
He fixed them coffee. As the percolator started making noise, they refused very apologetically when they realized it was coffee.
He entered the kitchen and popped a cork on a wine bottle.
“I guess you don’t know much about us!” they laughed.
Just then his iPhone rang. He took the call. He spoke but they could hear no voice on the other end.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I had something come up. But would you two boys help me with this table. I need to throw it away.”
“Can I have it?” said the young missionary?
The man nodded.
“That table is so amazing. I know my girlfriend would love it. It looks new and old at the same time. Here! Would you like a Book of Mormon for the table?”
His partner missionary looked at him disapprovingly.
“No. The book is free,” he said to his partner.
The old man jumped in.
“This table is now trash. So instead, how about I offer you this for your ‘Book of Mormon.’ It’s not really a fair trade for such a clean volume as yours.”
He gave them the tattered, yellow copy of the Tao Te Ching from his bookshelf.
They gave him a brand new “Book of Mormon.”
Before they left on their bicycles, the Missionary got on his phone to arrange someone to pick up the table before the trash men arrived in the morning.
After they left, he took the book over to a closet. In it was a stack of unused copies of “The Book of Mormon.”
He set it down among them.
He took the tea, wine and coffee and drank them in his chair as the night darkened the room. He started reciting the tattered old book from heart.
He had it memorized for decades.
He was too thrifty to waste the tea and coffee, so he got up after quoting the entire book and put them in the fridge to enjoy them as iced beverages later.
He then drank his wine while beholding the image of his deceased wife, “In a few years all that will be left is the chair, zafu, bed and you. And then I’ll die and this room will fill up with stuff again.”
He became drunk and sat upon the zafu.
It wasn’t often he meditated drunk. Usually, it was only when missionaries came by.