Friday, March 31, 2006

"As Mom used to say..."

Songbird writes:
This morning I had a moment in which I found myself wanting to reply to my teenager the way my father used to reply to me. Most of us have some classic family phrases or retorts or truisms handed down from parents to children. Name five things you used to hear your mother or father (or even a grandparent) say, especially things you might be surprised to hear coming out of your own mouth.

As per the RevGals Friday Five, here are some things my folks told me when I was a kid. This was, by the way, a surprisingly stressful little exercise. It seems fraught with danger - like I'll be painting an imcomplete picture (which I will be) and also, weirdly, like I'm giving away family secrets of some kind (well, probably, but not the real juicy ones). It's rather alarming how many one-liners that I remember are about housekeeping. Clearly THAT hasn't stuck all that well, except as metaphor, which is how I choose to see it.

Well, as usual, I probably just need to lighten up and stop talking so much, so here is what I remember in oft-repeated statements and occassional advice.

1. Never leave the house with the dryer running. In one of my snottier early-20's moments, I once told a friend that this was the ONLY piece of advice that my mother gave me in childhood, which it obviously is not. Still, it's stuck there for some reason. I think it's because I never thought of my mom as particularly careful (she drove that Fiat like a bat out of Italy, for example) but this was the one piece of advice in which she really seemed to be erring on the side of caution. By the way, I ignore this piece of advice frequently in my adulthood, but I always feel a little thrill of anxiety whenever I do.

2. Go wait in the car. I'll be right out. said while standing half-dressed in front of the bathroom mirror with a mascara wand in one hand This, I never understood as a kid. It was clear that she would NOT be right out and that the four of us kids would wait in the car for some unmeasurable while before it really was time to go. As a mom of only one kid, I totally get it. Now, when my whole family is out of the house, I walk from room to room, relishing the echo-y quiet. Now, I imagine that's what she was doing, too.

3. That kid is a handful Pretty much the worst thing that could be said about any difficult child, but almost always one outside our family circle. WE were never handfuls.

4. We don't take out the garbage. That's why we have boys. One treasure from my childhood is the special closeness I had with my mom as the only two females in a family full of males. It was usually a subtext, but every now and then something like this would slip out, and I would see that she got the specialness of it too.

5. Mom: I want you home by 11 and I'm not kidding!
My brother: Oh, mom, you're such a kidder.

For some reason it totally cracked us up every time he said this. Can't figure out why now, but still makes me chuckle why I'm writing it.

Bonus: Said by all members of the family at different times upon making a mess, or coming upon a mess made by someone else.
Just leave it. The Magic Maid will get it.
Repeated often after my dad cracked us up inadvertantly when in a moment of fuming frustration he asked, "What you think, some Magic Maid is just going to come in here and clean this up?"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Getting out

After a year and a half, I finally cancelled my Curves membership and joined a club whose money is NOT going directly to fund anti-choice initiatives like the recent one in South Dakota.

I'm pulling Eli out of his two-days-a-week daycare after he came home with a BITEMARK ON HIS LEG (sound of mom freaking out at any marring of her hitherto perfect offspring) and the a long conversation with the daycare lady revealed that it's not just that he's grouchy because he's three - there really are some hard group dynamics going on which have left our boy on the outside. We were going to be done there in May anyway, and we've got some temporary help from friends and neighbors, so I think it will work out.

It seems to be my week to get out of stuff. What's next, I wonder?

Planning ahead

Eli: "Guess what I'm going to be for Halloween? A robot and then Batman and then a skeleton and then Tinkerbell and then guess what? a ghost!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

And even more about the UCC Ad

If you haven't seen the new ad that the United Church of Christ is releasing next week, you can check it out here.

Songbird asks below in the comments whether I like the ad or not, and I started to reply there but it started to get too unweildy, and too long and started to feel like a post of its own, so I'm doing my best to form an answer here.

Do I like this ad? I've watched it a dozen times at least and my answer is....well, yes and no.

Yes, I think it is effective for the medium of television. Like things that are made for tv, it moves fast and has strong images in it. I don't think the premise is too confusing. I also don't think it's too violent - it seems pretty clear to me that it's supposed to be ironic. You may be disturbed by some of the imagery, but those disturbing images are supposed to be memorable and maybe even humorous. And since the whole point of TV advertising is to hit you with memorable images, many of which are just as disturbing as they are humorous (I dont know about you, but I'm still having nightmares about that frozen red-white-and-blue guy from the car commercial they played 6587 times during the Olympics) then I think it's doing what it should be.

Would it make me want to go to church, if I wasn't already? Well, it's so hard to say. I was never damaged by church when I was kid, or when I was a young adult struggling with my sexuality, or when I was a woman seeking ordination. Church has always been a good and safe place, it's only danger being that it might have bored me to death back in the uber-intellectual 80's. So I don't think these ads would shake me personally by the shirt front and say "get thee to one of those churches" if I wasn't involved already, but that sort of doesn't matter because it's not really for me, you know? My husband, on the other hand, who WAS damaged by church as a kid (at least a little) and who DOESN'T go now, loves the ad and finds it hilarious. And he's who it's for.

Speaking of which, I know what you mean about the "all the people" ad, Songbird. That one brought a tear to my eye the first hundred or so times I watched it, and it makes me so proud of who and what we are. But the UCC website says somewhere (shucks, cant find it now) that although UCC members loved that ad, it didn't make even a blip with the people it was supposed to reach, which is the rest of the world. So although it makes us feel great, it doesn't do the job, which is to talk "television-ese" to people watching television, and therefore, also watching the ad.

All of which raises a bigger question to my mind, as does the call by the Office of Communication, which I have reprinted below, about equal access for mainline denominations on the airwaves. The question is: Should we even be on televison? Does it even matter? Again, the best I can come up with is both a yes and a no.

Remember when Paul says that he'll speak like a Greek to the Greeks, like a Roman to the Romans and etc? I think as progressive Christians, we have too long ignored that aspect of evangelism. Also, we've been so appalled by the hijinks of conservative televangelists, and so determined not to be like them, that in some cases we've thrown the baby out the with the bathwater.

But how do we get in there? They won't even take our money to run these ads. (We're not the only ones, btw. They won't take paid ads from the folks who do Buy Nothing Day either.) We are very scary, friends, to some kind of powers that be. When we talk about getting people together instead of pushing them apart or when we talk about inclusivity and love instead of making war as primary Christian values, that is just totally antithetical to all that television is trying to do, which is to scare people into staying home and buying things from the Home Shopping Network in order to feel safe.

Let me be clear here, in case you didn't get it already. I really hate tv - we dont have one at our house (except during the olympics when we borrow one) and I'm pretty much astounded that so many people would submit to the commercial onslaught that is such a huge price to pay for the limited entertainment value of most television programs. (Full disclosure: I, do, howeverturn on the Home and Garden network pretty much the minute I get to a hotel room!) Anyway, it's becoming clearer that business as usual is not working - our churches are shrinking, blah, blah,blah - and we need to start speaking a different language, one that will make it clear that progressive people of faith are relevant. And there's some power in taking the tools of empire and using those very tools to dismantle it.

So that's a long answer to a short question. How about you? Do you like that ad?

More about the UCC ad

Hey, look at that - I DID figure out how to add the video. It's over there to your right. Click to see video of the new ad.

And here's a letter from the UCC director of communications, talking about a new campaign to increase the progressive religious voice in the mainstream media. Although it comes from our denomination, I think it really is for all of us who are weary of, "Yes, I am Christian, but I'm not...."

March 27, 2006

It has been a while since we’ve posted to this blog. But, the television networks still think that the United Church of Christ’s message of inclusion is so controversial that they won't even take our money to run a paid advertisement about it.

Just today, we released a new television commercial, which has already been rejected by ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the WB.

We now know that it’s not just the about the commercials. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time you saw a mainline progressive religious leader on a news program?

A recent study completed by Media Matters concludes what we have long known to be true: the networks favor the Relgious Right.

In this particular study, an analysis of guests on Sunday Morning talk shows revealed a pronounced bias in the percentage of conservative pundits versus progressives. In fact, the report shows that the networks frequently allow these shows to be used to attacks progressives and their ideas.

Why do James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Al Moehler, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell warrant seemingly endless coverage when ministries of the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, among others, rarely receive a single mention?

Networks can't play favorites. Mainline religious communities like the UCC have a right to be heard along with everyone else. So, starting today, we are reaching out to all of you once again and asking for your help to demand equal access to the air waves from the networks.


The Rev. Robert Chase
Director of Communication
United Church of Christ

Monday, March 27, 2006

New UCC Ad

Hey, have you seen the new UNITED CHURCH of Christ ad? If only I was cool enough to add video here! but I'm not - so go on over here, click on the "ejector ad" link and check it out.

And remember, church geeks, you are not the demographic being aimed for here...

Friday, March 24, 2006


Last week, a woman excused her husband from our gathering by saying "he didn't feel like socializing" and followed it up with "but don't tell him I said that - he'd rather say he was tired."

I've been reflecting since then on the craziness of a culture in which it is more acceptable to be worn out than alone.

So, this weekend, I'm going on a retreat with 70 other women. I will not be alone. I will certainly get worn out. But I'm looking forward to a break in the routine, a little bit of woods around me, and a chance to celebrate the Feminine Divine, in all her spring-time gloriousness.

I wanted to write more about my hopes for the weekend, but I was busy scrubbing the bathtub. My family may not have me this weekend but by God they will be able to bathe in a clean tub.

Speaking of crazy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Your True Fortune Foretold Using the Shuffle Feature of iTunes!

A new blog thing, found via the RevGals at yodabeth. And it's a cool one. I took out "will I have children someday?" 'cause, well, obviously. Other than that, it's intact.

Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you?
Nowhere Man (Beatles) I am not making this up

Will I have a happy life?
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, part 1 (Flaming Lips) Huh?

What do my friends really think of me?
I Had An Old Coat (Sally Rogers and Claudia Schmidt) But they mean it in a good way.

Do people secretly lust after me?
Experimental Music Love (The Magnetic Fields) I guess that would be a yes.

How can I make myself happy?
Concerto Per Mandolino, Archi E Cembalo: In C Major RV 425 (Vivaldi) Typical. The true secret to happiness and it's in a language I don't even know.

What should I do with my life?
What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? (Bernice Johnson Reagan and Co.) I have no response to that.

What is some good advice for me?
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (Toddler Favorites) And I suppose THIS is supposed to be some big metaphor for my life or something. BTW, Have I mentioned our project to burn every single solitary CD that darkens our door into iTunes?

How will I be remembered?
Squeeze Box (The Who) Now that's just plain nasty.

What is my signature dancing song?
"Summer" From the Four Seasons (Vivaldi) I'm really not this much of a Vivaldi nut. I guess that's what they mean by "random shuffle." Sigh.

What do I think my current theme song is?
See See Rider (Sweet Honey in the Rock) I AM, however, really this much of a Sweet Honey nut. Ha! "Sweet Honey Nut" that sounds like a new cereal or something. Now, aren't you glad you kept reading this whole thing, so you could get to the really funny stuff?

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
I'm Gonna Be or 500 Miles (The Proclaimers) And I really am sure that they mean that in a good way. Not in scary, stalker kind of way. Really.

What song will play at my funeral?
Victory Is Mine (The Apostle Soundtrack) Oh, YEAH! Won't it be great if right at the end, my theology suddenly gets all triumphalist? It could happen, I guess.

What type of men/women do you like?
Keep on the Sunny Side (O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack) Manifestly not true. In fact, when it comes to partners, I'd say the darker, the better - personality-wise. And I definately mean that in a good way

What is my day going to be like?
It is Well (Acapella) Aw. Now I'm all choked up.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sunday Night Rambling

I'm all tired out after a couple of days of migraines (perhaps the result learning the ins and outs of both a new palm pilot and a new phone in the same week as we're working on our taxes. note to self: don't do that again), so here's a little brain dead blogging:

Not sure how I came across this, but after teaching the pre-k Sunday school class at church this month, I can't get the sweet yet disturbing images of this website out of my mind. We do a lot of God Is Love talk with these little ones at our church - even the ten commandments were pretty much all about the love today (as per curriculum, I would ask them "how can we walk in God's way?" and when they could tell me one, I would say "God's way is so SWEET" and give them a piece of apple with honey squeezed on it. And two pieces to Eli for "I can cwean up my woom!") So anyway, I"m trying to imagine a context in which a 6 year old would be asked to draw a picture of a real live gory crucifix. Do you know?


Hurrah for the theotechnogeeks! Did you see this thing about how the seminary students won a competition to design a cell phone game? Here's what they said about it, which I quote in full, because it's so fucking awesome. Hat tip.
Basically, we felt that many video games today require too much activity - the player ends up mashing buttons with both hands as quickly as he or she can. We wanted to make a game in which knowing when to act and when not to act was important. At the same time, we wanted the game to be engaging, even when the player was choosing to do nothing. This brought us to the Taoist principle of Wu Wei, or "non-action." In short, Lao Tzu taught that one must learn the art of "creative quietude," surrendering to Tao and using no more energy than is necessary. It's somewhat analogous to the New Testament concept of Kenosis, or "emptying oneself," which has been used in Eastern Orthodox spirituality extensively.

So, we ended up with a game in which you are trying to to help a lost Moth find its way back home by the light of the moon. Unfortunately, there are other lights in the game which will distract the moth. The player controls neither the moth nor the light, rather the player controls obstacles in the environment, trying to gently encourage the moth to go where the player wants. It's a very gentle game - the moth can't die so there is no problem with setting the game aside for a moment (very important for a cell phone game). Finally, we tried to give the player a feel of serenity by placing the moth in meditative settings (a moss covered cave, a church, etc) which were communicated with the visual art and the music."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lots to say

It's the full moon. I slept about 12 hours last night and then had a beautiful, sunny day (er, what was left of it) with my son. Now I can't stop talking.


I went for one day of our 3-day regional denominational clergy retreat yesterday. It was good to make a few connections and get out into the sort-of wilderness for a day. The keynote speaker was Steve Lucas who was personable and smart and had some practical, real ideas about ministry.

Among them, the big stuff - like that the progressive church needs to be that famous "non-anxious presence" not just to each other but to the world - by being clear about who we are without fearfulness, we can make prophetic change. About change, he said most people will hire a pastor saying they want growth, but they want that to happen without change. He said that in seminary we learn alot about the church as we'd like it to be, most people in congregations want the church they had and pastors are stuck in the middle with the church as it is.

Sometimes if Jeff has to work on the weekends, or when someone asks him a question about a computer at a party, I say to myself: "see, everyone wears their job - ministry is not special" but Lucas reminded me of the ways that ministry IS unique, and therefore requires a hightened level of caution and self-care. For example, we are unique in the way that the minister has a role in the church no one else does (he encouraged us to see ourselves as diplomats - just visting a foreign country for awhile).

I left unsettled about a couple of things, too. He is obviously politically liberal, and he even said that is "ministerial malpractice" not to preach against things the current adminstration is doing that are "against the gospel." To which I want to go "right on, brother!" But his language was full of militaristic, violent metaphors. He talked about congregants "shooting you full of arrows," and "they want to kill you," and he told a story about a walking point with a battalion. Anyway, I asked him privately afterward (because I couldnt quite muster up the courage in the big group) why he talked that way, if he really wanted to be a model of prophetic change in the culture. I think I imagined (because of his accent, I bet, in a surprising little awareness of my own internalized regionalism) that he is kind of a good ol boy who just didn't know what he was doing. But he said he does that intentionally, and even against his internal preference, in order to be shocking and to remind us of the seriousness of what he is talking about. I know for sure I wouldn't choose that method myself. Don't we need to be about creating a new metaphor? One that is about shalom and grace and goodness? Is it too woo-woo to believe that we create the reality we live in out of the words we use?

Steve also advised that you make it clear right up front that you are NOT the employee of the congregation - you are ordained to the church of Christ. You are a shepherd. Use language like "I will minister WITH you....." As a man, this makes him seem smart and spiritual - a real leader. And I'm sure he is those things. As a woman, I have to wonder how it fly if I came in with both barrels blazing (metaphor intentional!) saying "I am not your employee, so dont try to boss me around" I'm thinking it'd come off as power hungry, as bitchy or as uncooperative - none of which, as a woman, I'm supposed to be. Again, I found myself wondering, what's the metaphor for me, here?


Speaking of women and violent metaphors, if you haven't been around Rachelle's place and checked out the fall-out from her Intl Women's Day blog, it might be worth it. Especially if you are living under the impression that the church is really full of very nice people who are living a gospel of love.


Speaking of above, I'm just so fed up with this kind of unneccesary hatefulness.


Please say a prayer, if you think of it, for my new little nephew Jackson - in the hospital at less than two weeks old with RSV. He's getting better fast, but must be a hard time for him and his folks.


This is all sort of serious. I guess some days are like that. I'll try to be funnier tomorrow.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My name is juniper and I'm a blogger

So, will smama is trying not to blog at home.
purechristian is trying not to blog at work.

Where do you blog? And when? From whom do you feel you can least justify taking the time that blogging takes? And do you have other hobbies that you have to "try" not to do at certain times?

And since I'm writing this at 12:46 am, with both work and home things left undone, who am I stealing from right now?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

praying out loud

Where's that part in Traveling Mercies, where Anne Lamott talks about praying out loud? Something like - for crying out loud, how embarrassing -here we are in church and everything and she want to pray out loud.

Well, I have a praying out loud thing all the time. You know, it's in my job description, so it's easy to pray out loud for OTHER people but to pray for myself is just not in my genes or in my family habits or church culture. Anyway, for a Lent practice, I'm trying to pray out loud for myself more - with the penultimate goal of deepening my awareness of God's work in the mundanities of life and with the ultimate goal of being a more effective pray-er and work-er in the world.

I'm self-conscious about it and it feels silly. It seems a little too new-age-hippie-save-yourself-and-you-save-the-world on the one hand and a little too Jesus-is-my-best-friend-and-I'm-the-one-who-knows-Him-best on the other hand. But I'm hoping with practice it will feel more real. So, here's what I just wrote for the Lenten prayer blog I've been adding to sporadically (which is populated, by the way, with pray-ers who are much more practiced and polished than I am at this):

Dear God,
You know our deal this Lent. My part of the deal is this: I will work on deepening my relationship with you by praying for and about my family and myself. Your half of the deal is...well, I don't know. But I suppose it is to reveal how You are always here and available but so often unasked for or unrecognized
It's so much easier, God, to pray for other people, for other situations, especially if they're far away. It's hard to risk praying for myself. It seems selfish and trivial. But I know in my heart that sometimes I pray for far away things because it's easier to imagine you as I imagine, for example, the children of the Sudan, or the people dying in Iraq. As an abstraction. Help me to know that you are really working in the reality of my everyday life, so that I can be strengthened in my prayers and in my work for others.
So, I want to fervently thank you for the wisdom you gave me today to pay attention to my body's cues so I would know a little in advance about the headache that was coming on this afternoon. I am grateful for the opportunity to rest then, which was what I needed. And thank you, Healing Jesus, for the help and patience of my family to encourage me to rest. I ask you to continue to work through my medicines, schedule, family and whole life as I move, with your grace, toward healing and wholeness.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

All kinds of good writing on women, church, culture...

Rachelle has done it again - gathered a diverse group under one roof in a gracious and intentional way that is unique to her. And, she started a conversation that will no doubt ripple out and out and out for the next days and weeks. Run, don't walk, to the list of folks gridblogging on International Women's Day today for personal stories, rage, gratitude, great quotes, and even funny stuff.

Grid Blog for International Women's Day

In the spring of 1999, I took part in a ceremony called Women of the 14th Moon in a church fellowship hall here in Seattle. I didn't know what to expect when I signed up, I only knew that some women were gathering. I thought maybe I'd see some magic performed.

Here's what happened. We were organized by age group and each woman told their story. "This is what it's like being a young woman...this is what it's like being a woman in middle years...this is what it's like being an elder." We had all day, so each person had time to speak. And time to listen. We sang together and celebrated each story.

And in my favorite moment of the day, after we asked the elder women to share the wisdom they had accumulated in their decades of living - and they did - the youngest women in the group wept and anointed their hands with sacred oil.

Then, the elder women stood spontaneously and, laughing, began to dance. The dance was their gift to the women to sat in a circle around them, clapping and singing and giving thanks for them. Thanks for speaking, we sang. Thanks for listening.

It WAS magic.

I've participated in or helped lead The 14th Moon almost every year since then, and every year it gains power. We've moved outside, but we still dance and cry and laugh. As women, it's imperative that we gather together from time to time in a place away to tell our stories, laugh and cry, challenge and affirm one another. Then we are strengthened to move back into the world and do the work that needs doing.

This year, the 14th Moon that I've been connected with will be on August 5th, 2006 on a beautiful farm on Whidby Island, an hour outside of Seattle. You can get in touch with me with questions or for information about how to register.

How are you smashing patriarchy? This post is in response to The Urban Abbess's call:

I live in a city where a mega church pastor repeatedly instructs his young congregation to see women as subservient to men...

I practice a religion where systemic dysfunction keeps many women from being who they were truly meant to be....

I dwell on a globe where women and girls are systematically raped and murdered in order to allow the violent and the powerful to be more violent and more powerful...

“If I had a hammer, I would smash patriarchy.” -- Maybe in my blog, I’ve found it.

What about you? Where do you live? What do you practice? Do you have a hammer?

March 8th is International Women’s Day. Let’s make it the day we raise our voices, the day we use our hammers to dismantle patriarchy and build something that looks more like kingdom. Furthermore, let’s do it with intelligence, wit, wisdom, and grace – but also without mincing words hiding our emotions, or sugar coating our realities.

Join us is in an intentionally mixed-gender gridblog conversation around patriarchy and how to eliminate it.

1) Post It! use your voice by posting on March 8th.
(If you are in Seattle I would encourage you to post about your experience as a woman in a city where voices like Mark Driscoll at the Mars Hill Church have so much influence -- especially over young women and men. Although, all justice realted topics around women and gender equity are welcome.)

2) Name It! For consistency, please title your post: Grid Blog for Int'l Women's Day: add your subtitle here

3) Illustrate It!: With the attached .gif from Sam Brown at

4) Register It!: By sending your link to Rachelle will consolidate all the links into one earth shattering list. Please send links by noon on the 8th.

5) Pass is on! Send this to a blogging pal or post the invite on your blog.

Thank you, in the words of the Indigo Girls, for getting out of bed with your hammer and your nail.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Cross meme

Do you wear a cross?

Is there a particular time or place that you consider wearing a cross?
I always have it on.

Where do you were it?
On a chain around my neck. Outside, if it's that kind of shirt.

What does the cross look like?
You can see it in the picture. Only mine is silver instead of gold.

Who gave the cross to you or did you choose it?
A good friend gave it to me when I graduated from seminary. She's a great present giver and she got a lot of other people in on it - her mom and my husband and her sister. It's from Tiffany, so I wouldnt have chosen it for myself - I would have thought it would seem too much like bling for a cross since it came from there. But now that I have it, I really love it.

Is this your favorite cross, if so, why?
I love the simplicity and lightness and openness of it.

What does wearing a cross mean to you?
This could be a very long answer, but I'm going to make it a short-ish one if I can. I want to remember Christ, who, I believe, did not come here to die but to live. And it was the way he lived that meant he had to die. It reminds me of my constant prayer - help me live as true follower of Christ, as much as possible.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Just came from Ash Wednesday service.
(Note to self: If someone brings wine to the pre-Lenten-program-potluck DO NOT DRINK even a half a glass just to be polite, if you are also leading the worship or program.
Note not to self: And thank you, Jesus, that nothing too absurd happened as a result of not establishing this rule earlier.)
On the way home, I was passed by a fire engine, going fast, sirens blaring. I said out loud to the empty car "I sure hope that's not going to MY house." And then, when I saw the crew pulled over a few blocks later, helping a man up from the sidewalk, I actually felt relief. And then I felt terrible.
Had NOTHING from the worship service sunk in AT ALL?

Backstory. I love, love, love Sue's blog. She's so funny and smart and spritual and energetic - always heading off to shovel snow or paint a room. (I don't really get that NASCAR thing, but I guess no one is perfect.) Another reason I'm always reading her blog is because I'm looking for secret clues. Somewhere, I can't find it now, Sue said that she doesn't write about her husband's disability, because that's his story to tell. And it's true, she doesn't write about it very much. I don't write about my husband's disability very much either. But I'm always aware of it as a subtext of her writing, and of mine.

Because here's the reality. Jeff's disability affects me every minute. Even when I'm not telling the story of his disability, I'm here to tell you that I'm telling it. The knowledge of it is always there, like a, like a ....what? I can't even think of a metaphor for what's it's like to know that the person who I love and trust and rely on more than anyone else in the world is always on a fragile precipice - could fall and not be able to get up, could have to reach something vital he can't reach, could be too far from the phone to get help. And when he and our son are hanging out together, and I'm at work less than five miles away but across two bridges in earthquake country, the list of possibilities just multiplies.

Well, I'm not trying to paint too hysterical a picture here, I just want tell you how it is. Last year, we found this really sweet preschool for our 3 year old son, but it was not accessible for Jeff by wheelchair. He encouraged me to sign Eli up anyway "I don't want you guys to be affected by my limits" Which was such a kind and generous thing to say, but was just not how it is, because we ARE affected. And the idea of sending Eli to a school, even for a year, that Jeff would never be able to visit, quickly came to seem completely ridiculous. So we ate the hundred dollar deposit and kept looking. It doesn't make the people in our family braver or more compassionate or spunkier than other people. We do not need pity. We do not wish to be an inspiration. It's just that the reality of our life has different textures than other people's and I don't think we acknowledge that often enough.

On the other hand, I don't know how it is for everyone else. Even if your husband can walk and stuff, maybe you think the fire truck is for your family too. Maybe you have other reasons, much more scary and sad than mine, for listening for the sirens in a particularly personal way. I guess I just had to get that all out of the way before I could say what I really wanted to say, which is, please pray for that guy, the one on the sidewalk. Please pray that he has a warm place to sleep and that he'll be lifted out from under whatever was keeping him lying there on a windy March night. And pray for peace for those who are wondering tonight if the sirens are for them this time.