My daughter is afflicted with a genetic disorder.


Now, she would not characterize it as such, just as her mother refuses to concede to the possibility that perhaps rather than “thinking broadly” she is really, darn it all, distracted.

(For those of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Profile, this link will be amusing.  I’m the ENF….LOOK!  A BIRD!…P)

Last night, Else and I decided to complete the puzzle that had garnered the attention of our dining room table since, well, December 28th.

Alright, so I have been thinking broadly!  And it was a 1000 pieces!

Elsegirl was so excited to finish it, and so excited about the mama-daughter time that would happen while we clicked those little pieces together, that, well, she got distracted by all this abundant happiness and therefore couldn’t do the puzzle.

But she did manage to figure out a special private mama-Else “move” to make whenever we found a match (both hands clapping on the legs twice, then two fist bumps, then a single high-five).

So finally, exasperated because it was fast approaching past-bedtime, and my husband was (probably appropriately) fast approaching reduced mindfulness about this @#$^%! puzzle after a month-a-half, I looked at Else and firmly said, “Come with me.”

I took her into our bathroom, but not before grabbing a flashlight and a crystal earring on the way.

You see where I’m going with this?

You ENFP-ers might.

I turned on the flashlight, turned off the light, and shut the bathroom door.

“Elsegirl,” said I.  “Else, tell me, how many dots do you see on the wall when I shine the flashlight on it?”

“One, mama!”

“Righto, babygirl.  There is only one dot, and it is a bright dot, because there is only one dot of focused light.  The flashlight is focused.  Now, Honey One, watch this.”

I took out my crystal earring and dangled it in front of the flashlight.

“Sweet, sweet chickaroo, tell me: Now how many dots do you see on the wall and–oh! Look!  Even on the ceiling!”

“Lots, mama, there are a lot and they are beautiful!”

“Yes, wonderful one, there are lots and they are beautiful.  But they are not as bright as the one light dot that the flashlight threw on the wall, are they?”


“Nope indeedy, and that’s because the crystal is a prism.  That means that it’s glass with lots of angles which, when light shoots through it, sends little light dots to lots of different places all around.  The light is not focused.

[Still in the dark–figuratively and literally, I’m sure]

So here’s the thing, Elsegirl.  You, sweet baby girl, are often focused not so much like a flashlight, but focused like a prism….which means that on occasion, you aren’t focused, so very much.  But your thoughts are beautiful, and it is a very good thing to be able to have lots of different thoughts, especially when you are brainstorming or making up imaginary games and stories and all of those wonderful things.

However, when you have a task to do, oh, say, like that puzzle out there, it is better to take the prism away and just be focused like a flashlight.

[For dramatic effect, crystal earring disappears].

Shall we do the puzzle now, sweet girl, and be focused like this flashlight so we can get it done tonight?”

And so off we went, and although an occasional crystal earring threatened refraction, for the most part, we stayed focused.

Now, I recognize for some of you, this tale seems another example of me thinking broadly.

But I am focused.  Truly.

I am mulling these days about what people find intriguing and appealing about OMG.

I think that partly, people feel that theologically, they are focused like a prism.  Their faith feels refracted, or, one could say, fractured.  (The etymological connection is made clear here).

And for the record, I have nothing against prisms.

They are beautiful.

But when one feels in the dark, when one is struggling to find help making sense of unclear surroundings, when one would like some sort of illumination, it helps if one has an idea about what it is that one really believes, what one really holds to be true.

Now, if you hold a flashlight to the wall, you will see that there is still a bit of refraction.  There isn’t just one dot, no matter how much I made of that point to E-girl.

That’s to say that theologically, I figure that it is impossible to focus all thoughts so that we’re talking laser: I don’t even know that that sort of faith is desirable.

But I do think that the possibility exists that one’s theology be more focused than a prism.  I do think it is possible–and even desirable–to figure out what it is that one believes, and why, and what that looks like when thrown onto a wall, because when you have that, you have some focused illumination…not to mention some focus.

Now, I’m off to birdwatch.