A few years back I made a mosaic trivet out of accumulated broken and chipped teacups and plates. A snowman looks up at a bird in a pine tree against a blue sky. I did not plan the design beforehand. The pieces decided what shape they would take. My beliefs and values formed like this. Incongruous, jagged pieces coalesce as the viewing distance increases.
In my early childhood, we lived for a time at a nudist commune in New Hampshire. One day, while “Here Comes the Sun” played in the background, I walked in on my father giving a blond woman a special hug in the Love Room. The only time I’ve ever been high was here at the age of five, from secondhand marijuana smoke. Later, we loaded into a Toyota Jeep and drove down to the Yucatan Peninsula to get away from the bourgeoisie fascist pigs. While visiting the Mayan ruins, my baby brother touched his toe to the mouth of Chac, the rain god, carved into a wall. I held his hand tightly when we stood on the edge of the round and seemingly bottomless cenote, worried that the gods wanted him as a sacrifice. These experiences taught me that there are many different lifestyles and belief systems.
After my father left us to go try and overthrow the government, my Mom promptly married his best friend and we all got born again. Pastor Kunst baptized the whole family in Candlewood Lake, then we moved down to Louisville, Kentucky so Dad could go to Bible school. Suddenly we were living in the end times, waking up each day wondering if we would be swept up to heaven in the Rapture. It added excitement to our lives, but I worried that I wouldn’t live to be an adult. I learned how important it is to be able to dream of a future.
Soon after the country’s bicentennial, the Lord sent us up to Chittenden, Vermont. With three cats, a new puppy, the old Toyota Jeep, and a big moving van, we drove up to a little farm next to a pond. Dad knocked on the door and told the owners that God had promised us their house. I ducked behind the backseat of the Jeep with a stomach ache, until Dad came back shaking his head. I learned that people don’t always hear the same thing from God.
Even though my childhood was a pendulum of extremes, when you lay all these bits into a mosaic, the sharp colors simply add twinkle to a softer overall picture, much like my snowman’s cobalt eyes gleam against the white shards of his round body. I believe that my hippie evangelical childhood adds zest to who I am and I really am thankful to my parents for all the zaniness, but I’m also glad to be off the roller coaster. A few months back, God told my unemployed parents to put their only asset, their house, into the offering plate at church. Somehow things always work out for them, but I’m still relieved to not be in the back seat this time.