The Common Good

Clowns, Bad Haircuts and Dreams of Disaster (Day Three)

“I had a weird dream last night,” Amy said, “that our house in Pueblo was burning down. I called the fire department and instead of firefighters, they sent a whole bunch of clowns on unicycles.

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“I told them they needed to put out the fire, but they just kept riding around in circles on their stupid unicycles.”

“I had a weird dream too,” I said over a cup of strong coffee. “I came into the bathroom and you were using my razor on the sides of your head.”

“Really? How’d I look?”

“Kinda like Nadia Bolz Weber,” I said. “It might work for her; for you, I’m not so sure.”

By the time I reached the bottom of the cup, I decided the two dreams were connected. No, it’s not that Amy’s a clown or that I think she should sport a Mohawk for her first Sunday in Portland. We’re both working through our fears of the “worst that could happen.” 

Amy’s fears seem to focus on the past; mine focus on the future. Amy worries about what’s going to happen to the folks we’ve left behind; I worry about her taking on a very different – and in some ways, a much larger – challenge at First Christian Church in downtown Portland.

All of it is about the vulnerability of having no control. Truth be told, we usually have less control than we think we do anyway, but when you move out of state, the lack of agency is pretty much right there, in your face.

We’ve invested eight years of our lives into this community called Milagro Christian Church (Spanish for “Miracle”). As we have said many times before, it has our DNA throughout it. Our story is Milagro’s story. Our struggles and breakthroughs have been Milagro’s struggles and breakthroughs.

And now the paths are diverging, and although it’s exciting and necessary, there’s a part of it that really sucks.

As for us personally, this is a radically new path, especially for Amy. We’ll be a good twenty-four-hour drive from her family, and even further from mine. For the first time in our thirteen-year marriage, Amy will be the primary wage-earner, and the expectations for both of us are high. It’s a new state, a new culture, a new congregation, a new reality.

Can we handle it? There’s one way to find out.

Same goes for Milagro. Yes, they’re going to do things differently than we would. Hell, they were already doing that before we left. What will be especially weird is Sunday morning, when they gather to worship for the first time without us. Technically, they’ve done it before when we’ve been on vacation, but there’s something different about doing it when you know the folks who got you started aren’t coming back.

I’m kind of glad that our travel plans have us headed from New Mexico to Las Vegas Sunday morning. We’ll stop in Flagstaff to have lunch with the daughter of one of our closest friends back at Milagro. But there’s a strange metaphor to be found in us taking off out west while our Milagro family gathers to figure out who they’re going to be without us.

And maybe to complete the metaphor, I should let Amy drive.

Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician and spoken word artist. He co-founded Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, in 2004. Christian is the creator and editor of "Banned Questions About The Bible" and "Banned Questions About Jesus." His new memoir on faith, family and parenting is called "PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date." For more information about Christian,, or find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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