It’s true, I fought the law, or rather, I was held at gunpoint by the law. I suppose that’s getting ahead of myself so let me back up and share this tale. Quick, grab a cup of coffee, tea or mimosa-really, I won’t judge-and let’s travel down memory lane.


I was fortunate to grow up in Helena, the capital of Montana, which is big enough to not know everyone but small enough to feel the boundaries of home. My family was close-knit-home-grown yet quite liberal despite living in a conservative state. Our home, and the family within, open to others of different beliefs or backgrounds given our own diverse ancestral roots; we were always setting an extra place setting during the holidays as my mother worked at Carroll College and didn’t want any student feeling alone during traditional family time. As far as religion was concerned we attended Our Redeemer’s Lutheran church regularly, my father became a fixture despite his varied beliefs mainly due to the connection he felt with Pastor Anderson; a man of cloth who wove in science. During my formative years I was expected to be there, as my parents wanted me to see what what they had chosen for themselves. Around communion time and then confirmation time, I was given the choice to participate or go my merry way. My father always explained his reasons for going to church in that he was involving himself in a community of others with similar values. I think he also liked playing his various instruments as music runs through his veins much like oxygen sustains the rest of the living. I regularly attended my youth group and was quite involved in our various activities: lock-ins, the Halloween Carnival, Easter brunch, trips to youth conventions or our annual snow football games where the snow was to be the padding for gentle tackling the boys showing off and perhaps pinning their crush of the day. I remember nursing those bruises but still loved the thrill of tackle football.


The High School aged group had an amazing space available filled with donated couches, a fooseball table, a few chairs, candid photos from previous members spanning one of the walls while the other three were untouched, plain, white, boring. We decided that we needed to clean out some of the old couches and paint a night sky on the wall opposite the photos, something we could look to during our get-togethers and smile.


We had new youth pastors that helped arrange this group that would freshen up the youth room. We ordered pizza, opened a few liters of soda and went about doing our thing. Many of my fond memories from those years stem from this group of church friends. My friend Andy had pulled up his gunmetal gray truck and we stuck a few of the old couches in the back, the indigo sky was painted on the wall filled with oodles of stars, the moon and spiral galaxies. It was getting late and I was tasked with closing up the church, along with my sister, James, and our friends, Andy, Mike and Mary.


We were in the downstairs kitchen, Mary and my sister, James, cleaning the brushes. Andy, my crush at the time, was holding knives contemplating juggling them and Mike had just realized he drank expired milk. We were joking and having a good time when all of a sudden the hairs on my neck stood up and I was told to “Freeze, put your hands in the air!”


When I turned around my eyes couldn’t move from the gun mere inches away from my face nor the cops in a line braced to handle any movement we might make. Silly law man I thought, we won’t move, we’re petrified, so this is what fear feels like. I quickly assessed the situation and thought aside from Andy holding the knives, we should be good to go. We’re law-abiding-church-going kids what could they possibly believe that isn’t the truth?


Nope, the cops meant business and coldly asked who was in charge for which my dear loving friends and sister, all turned and pointed to me faster than I could blink my eyes.


Great, I thought. Lucky me :)


The cops separated me from the group as during an interrogation splitting up hoodlums lends to getting a more accurate story. Only when I told them that we were members of the church, freshening up our youth room…they didn’t believe me. This was new as I was used to being thought trustworthy.


They thought we were vandalizing the church and stealing a few couches. Silently I thought, well we must be nice vandals as we’re washing our brushes and took the oldest dirtiest couches. My musings cut short by the sound of the cops surveying the sanctuary in the dark with their pistols primed and ready, the only perps they found were our potted plants that soon toppled over. Thank goodness they didn’t shoot. Only then I realized there were guns in the sanctuary and somehow I was involved in that.


I hoped God didn’t mind that one of his homes was being ransacked. To be honest, despite my church going ways, I’m not sure what I believed back then. I don’t remember truly contemplating such, I enjoyed singing, hearing bible stories as well as being a part of a group, but the actual belief part is fuzzy. It’s only now that I’m sifting through what I believe.


After the officers finally got ahold of the new pastors on the phone, who vowed we were who we said we were and simply bad timing, we were then brusquely told to finish up and head home. The neighbors had called in the complaint and we were disturbing their peace.


I remember eyeing his gun thankful it had remained in the holster and hopeful I’d never have to feel that type of fear again.


Riding in the back of the truck on one of the couches, okay, so truthfully slightly law-abiding-church-going kids, I remember looking up at the night sky, feeling the cool breeze blow away all the fear, the fight or flight that I fought with the law that night. I had stared down the barrel of a gun in church and somehow had not only kept the wits about myself, but managed to land a memory that now lends to laughter and sweet reminiscing of the good ‘ole days.


So, the moral of the story is, and yes there should be a moral, right?  I mean this is a story and all good stories somewhere within the words has a little moral gem or truth, and as much as I’d like to simply say check the date of milk before you drink or don’t attempt to juggle knives unless you’re trained…


Let no one disturb your peace. Or if you feel you must be disturbed, at least check to see if all the hoopla is deserved, otherwise your energy is better spent, as well as tax payers dollars.


I’m just sayin’!