It was 7:30 last Friday and I was trying to fall asleep on the couch. It was weird, at that time, for Mitch to not be home yet, but if I got up to check my phone it would blow all my progress towards a nap. When he did get home I had updated my nap to plan 2.0 in which my face was turned towards the back of the couch. Mitch paced around a little bit and didn’t say anything. He seemed either sad or irritated.

A group of about 40 students from a nearby high school had come to Mitch’s school looking for a fight. It was afternoon and several teachers, off the clock, were trying to herd all of their kids into the gymnasium. When the cops arrived, the attacking kids took off running. One of the cops pulled out a billy club on one of the students from Mitch’s high school – he was stopped, his error corrected, before he used it – and another accidentally hit a student with his car. A third cop started getting into it with the baseball coach, shouting, and Mitch intervened saying, “Hey, we’re just trying to look out for our kids.” To which the cop replied, “Well, you’re doing a bad job.”

That was before Mitch got in an accident driving home, the other vehicle toting a mother and three children. (Their van’s fine. Nobody’s hurt.) Our car has been a source of tension between me and Mitch. It was mine before-marriage, and our conflicts usually arise over his lack of deference to said possession. The last time we fought about it, I lost my house key. It got flung somewhere in the apartment and disappeared. Mitch kept saying how bad he felt because it was a mom and three kids.

Then Mitch’s phone quit. The screen only lights up gray, overcast.

The pastor on Sunday said that he had asked for contributions, on little pieces of paper, several weeks ago. They were going to be his prayers over Lent. He said when he read them that a theme quickly emerged. He paused and said what I was thinking: peace. Not merely the absence of hostility. Peace, as in the resurrection of relationships and households that have turned cold and distant, peace to confront the tension that has been swept under the rug. But, yeah, also the absence of hostility. So that it’s not necessary to keep students in the gym after school, unable to leave unless an adult comes and gets them. Redemption for ragged friendships and racist cops and ’99 Toyotas and cell phones…

* An update: just found out the Camry's not totalled! Bottoming out on speed bumps, it'll live another day. 

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