Monthly Archives: March 2012

Couched Terms

I just made the second major furniture purchase of my adult life (the first being a dining room table bought in a hurry so there would be somewhere to sit for Helen’s baptism party).  This is kind of pathetic when you know how long I’ve been an adult. It is understandable when you know about Pennsylvania Dutch thriftiness. The Sofa was made possible by several years worth of credit card purchases had built up to a mountain of points just waiting to be converted to major bucks to use anywhere I wanted. Like Pottery Barn! The couch I had coveted so long would soon be mine.

Helen and Mei were of course excited that we would be getting a real couch to replace the old futon. Not so fast, I warned them. This is a New Sofa. It is pristine and comes with some rules to keep it that way. There will be no eating on this sofa! No dirty feet on it! You will wash your hands before reclining (OK I didn’t say this but I thought it. You would understand if you saw Mei’s hand after some meals).

New Sofa was bringing out the worst in me and I was worried I may squelch their joy with my need to keep it looking good. I shouldn’t have. The day it was delivered I spent a half hour admiring The Sofa’s clean lines, the plush microfiber, its firm seat cushions and puffy back pillows. Then the girls got home from school.

“Girls, our new couch is here, isn’t it great!” I gushed.  “It’s perfect, mom,” they cried together. “What part do you like best – the color? fabric? The arms rolled just right?” “The Cushions!” they declared. “They are perfect for a fort. Can we make one now?” Within minutes The Sofa was deconstructed and two girls with dirty feet had a tea party inside. Which makes it the best couch ever.

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No Indication

“Mom,” Helen asked, “Do I have to believe in God?”. The question caught me off guard. Inside my head my brain spluttered – What? I’m not ready for this conversation yet.  How can she be asking this already? She’s only 10! Outside, I maintained what I hoped was a non-anxious presence and replied, “No, you don’t have to. No one can make you believe anything. Uh, but why don’t you?”. “Because,” she said, “So far God has given no indication of existing at all.”

My parenting experience is of always being one step behind my kids as they move to their next stage. So while I’ve been obsessing about when and how to talk to her about the signs of puberty, how to stand up to bullying and picking clothes off her floor, she has been dwelling on theology and the existence (or nonexistence) of God.

I refrained from launching into a litany of God indicators that might speak to her – creation, love, community, mystery, and settled in to listen. She gave me an earful about war and suffering and injustice. But at the end, she asked, “Mom, do I have to believe in God to do what you do?”.

“Well honey, I’m a pastor and its pretty important to believe in God to do that.”

“No, not that. Do I have to believe in God to do advocacy and try to change things, especially to protect animals and the earth and  people?

“No, you don’t have to believe in God to do that. But the reason I do advocacy is because I believe in God and God wants things to change.”

Long Silence.

“O.K. I’ll think about it.”

We left it at that.

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