“Church Is Not a Game!”
When I pull into Jay's gravel driveway, I see him standing near the shed, his insect collecting equipment gathered near his feet and his field guide in his hand. Jay steps toward the car eagerly and has the passenger door open almost before I'm parked. Equipment in the trunk and Jay buckled into the passenger seat, we are quickly on our way to Axleton Park. Jay pulls a blue flyer out of his field guide and waves it toward me as I drive, “I have something that I want you to go to. ”
“Oh, yeah? What is it?”
“It's Church Fest! See, this even has the directions on it. ” Jay points to the text printed at the bottom of the blue flyer.
I knew that Jay's church played a very important role in his life, and I was touched that he invited me into this context that was so personally important to him. I also wondered how Jay's skills in oralcy supported his participation in this context. Early in my collaborative work with Jay, I had shared my observations about Jay's ways of interacting with text with his uncle, Bruce. Bruce later reported that he noticed Jay used the same approach, mediating his understanding of written text through oral interactions, during Bible study at the church. Although I wouldn't be attending Bible study with Jay, perhaps I could gain some further understanding of who he was by observing him in this context. Jay's invitation to his church picnic was an opportunity, I hoped, to learn more about his participation in another discourse community outside of Laura's classroom, one that held personal meaning and interest for him.
I was unsure whether the picnic was a public event and called Jay's grandmother, Jennifer, to confirm that it was appropriate for me to attend.