Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fingerprints

The Beve's half Norwegian. Yep, his mom's parents were both from Norway--Stavanger, to be precise. Me? Well, I have some ancestors who came over in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, but can also trace my roots on American soil back to the 1620s when an Englishman named David Thompson settled on an Island in Boston Harbor that's named, naturally enough, Thompson Island, which just happens to be my mother's maiden name. You can visit Thompson Island now, it's an Outward Bound School, and they give David Thompson the central place in their history(as well they should!). On my dad's side, I'm a European mutt--French, German, English, Scotch, Irish. But all those people wound up in America long enough ago that I'm mostly just American down to my Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner-knowing soul.

And I've obeyed this country's laws. The Beve has too. You know we have. Clearly, if you could guess anything, you might have guessed that. OK, I've gotten a speeding ticket in my life--I was late to take a science project made of layered jello to SK, and hurried past an elementary school. The cop who stopped me said he often made high school students write an essay rather than give them a ticket--he thought that a more meaningful punishment. I volunteered on the spot to write the essay and he laughed, but didn't bite. Dang! And once I rear-ended a car on a jam-packed free-way, because a car hit me. The cop said I'd been following too closely! Gave both of us tickets. Dang again! But I'm a law-abiding citizen. And the Beve? He's the straightest arrow you've ever met. He's a Eagle Scout, after all--that's not hyperbole, either.

But yesterday we found out that we have to race down to the police station to get finger-printed, in order to care for V. Interesting thing, this. Now the world allows any old person to take their own child home from the hospital after giving birth. In fact, the only--the only--restriction on a birth parent is that they have a car seat. Sure, deal drugs right next to that baby, speed around the corner away from the hospital with guns waving out the window, but put the baby in a car seat and you're good to go! Who cares if you know how to feed him, diaper, care for her in any fashion? Just get a car seat, mama and the world is yours...

But take a 15-year-old into your home, when you've raised three great young adults, three you-should-be-so lucky-to-even-know-these-people-young adults, and the agencies clamp down on you so hard, you'd think you didn't know up from down, had just cut through the back woods into this country as illegal aliens, and were endangering her life at every turn! See, we've already had not one, but TWO background checks by each of two different agencies in the ten days she's been with us (that's 4 total, for those of you scoring at home!). And still--still--the fingerprints that are already on file because the Beve is a school counselor, and I have worked for school districts in the past don't count--might not be valid. Shoot, we might have run out and robbed someone in the last 4 days since the last background check--we might have wiped clean our finger prints in the last few years; well, we really could have...

I'm telling you, gotta love this country. This country that my ancestors clearly helped found. Clearly left countries to come to in high hopes for. The truth is, I struggle with my country. That's the honest truth of it. When I'm faced with these situations--with overbearing government that makes no sense whatsoever, I struggle. In a few moments the Beve will pick me up to go sit in another waiting room for another unbearable length of time--I've already been told it will go this way. I'm already mad about it--can you tell? And then they'll enter those fingerprints in the system and discover--to their shock and amazement--that they already have our fingerprints on file. Or maybe they won't because why should the right hand ever know what the left hand does. I wouldn't put that past them either.

But the bottom line is that I think of myself as a citizen of heaven first (middle and last, too, come to think of it)..."no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone." Ephesians 2:19-20 I don't think our heritage is nearly as important as our hearts. This means there are different borders in my life than there are on maps. I don't think God looks down from heaven and sees those lines on maps anyway. I think He sees people, and loves them all. I think I have to look at us the same way. In the Kingdom together--some of the household of faith, others who we want to love into his Kingdom.

P.S. Just got home from the sheriff's office. After a wild goose chase to find the right place--the police department only fingerprints in the afternoons, the sheriff department only in the mornings, and God Himself forbid you fill out the form with blue ink, or sign your name without them staring at you!!!--we sat in a tiny waiting room. There were people filing complaints about stolen cars, those wanting to carry concealed weapons, even a sex offender reporting his address change. Finally, one by one, we were called back to have our fingers, single digits at a time, pressed in ink and pushed onto the paper. My fingers were too dry, so on went lotion, the prints covered, and a few do-overs. Can you imagine that job? Standing in a windowless hallway, holding strangers' hands a few hours every other day and pressing them to paper? Not much human contact for all that we were finger to hand. When I mentioned that to the Beve afterwards, he said, "Cleaning septic tanks is a lot worse than that." Leave it to Beve to find the silver lining. He should have told the young woman she had a lot to be thankful for--she could have used a smile.

Maybe you could, too.

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