Domestic Dispute

This post and its comments were originally published on Transformation City Church’s blog.


Some weeks we have Bible Club. Some weeks we have Bible Fight Club. This week was definitely BFC, hot and crispy.

In our meeting beforehand Kevin outlined the lesson plan, which was about Joseph. (Not the one who got to be Jesus’ father, but the one who got a multi-colored coat from his father.) Kevin was concerned that the story was too long and its moral too vague for the children.

He needn’t have been concerned, because he never got to tell Joseph’s story. Instead, the children acted it out. They boasted to, argued with, and betrayed one another. Kevin preached about forgiveness and forgave them all. And somehow it was all right. We all walked away from it like the survivors of a plane crash, giddy, grateful.

That night, above the groaning of my air conditioner and the heartbeat of my stereo, I heard shouting. A limited vocabulary of expletives conveying a broad diversity of hatred. I was sure it was right outside my window, in the backyard, some spontaneous angry cookout, assault with a spatula. But when I opened the blinds no one was there. Walking out of my room I found Kevin, who was darting between watching the basketball game on TV and watching out the front windows.

“What’s going on out there?” I barked, as if the question had the power to restore sanity.

On the balcony, our opera box, we peered at the drama below. Shadows of men and women grappled and shoved. One streetlight respected their privacy and refrained from illuminating.

“I’m going to call the alderman and get him to fix that streetlight,” Kevin scolded, “and I did call the police, but they take forever to get here.”

A siren responded to his accusation. 12 cop cars raced in and cops bounced out of them. They surrounded the scene, dedicated extras awaiting a director’s cue. Then something gave – they engaged – grabbing and separating, commanding and escorting.

Kevin shook his head and sighed, “None of this would happen if people just watched the game.”

Some nights later, as I was driving down our alley that the city calls a street, two cats rolled in front of my car, clawing at one another. Swearing, I slammed on the brake.

They leaped apart and glared at me, eyes glowing green. They were going to kill each other. I was getting in the way.


The week before Easter the rain descends upon the city. It gathers everything in its toothless mouth and gums until everything is glop. Across the street from our house, in a tree, there is a pale plastic bag hung on a branch. It looks like the shroud of a ghost. It sags as though it once carried something heavy and now is empty.

The local newspaper’s website reports that publicly funded food assistance is a fraud. Some recipients sell their food cards for cash. Some for drugs. The newspaper subscribers comment about what should be done.

A detective knocks on our door and warns of a young man in a dark hooded sweatshirt who has been abducting young women and assaulting them in abandoned garages. “Have you seen anything out of the ordinary?” He asks. I look around the neighborhood. “What is out of the ordinary?” I ask.

At Bible Study the children attempt to dye eggs and succeed in dyeing their hands; it looks like they have strangled rainbows. With water and soap they rinse and wash and rinse and wash but the stains are still there.

The week after Easter the rain descends again upon the city. Most of the bag is gone; a few tattered strips are the only evidence of it. Something must have carried it away.