CommonPlaces Breaking60 TravelingNotes UU Exploration Belief and Practice
Jim, Who Liked 37

Originally given as a children's moment, as part of the program which included the sermon Seeing More (which see); I have transcribed this from memory. Perhaps it might someday, with illustrations, become a children's book in its own right.

It is meant to be an interactive story: I taught the children to count, as I held up my fingers, to take part in telling the story: one finger = one, two fingers = two but three fingers = 37. In this transcription, I have used ¡, ≈, and Δ, respectively, for 1, 2 and 3 fingers. Enjoy, but remember that Δ means 37 not 3!


This is the story of James Jerome Jeffrey John... (actually he hadΔ names but everybody called him Jim). Perhaps because Jim had not ¡, not ≈, but Δ names, he was very, very fond of the number Δ.


Jim lived in a house at number ΔΔ, Δth Street. It was a nice house, with¡ door,≈ windows facing the street andΔ rooms. It was a very good thing that there wereΔ rooms, because in addition to Jim; his mother, his father, 17 sisters and 17 brothers,Δ people in all lived together in their home at number ΔΔ, Δth Street.


You can just imagine what life was like in that house:


When ¡ sister began to play the piano, all the other sisters joined in on their pianos, the brothers got out their trombones, Mother played her harp and Father chimed in on his xylophone. So, sometimes Jim thought he was living in the middle of aΔ piece band!


Everybody had pets. Why there were ¡ or ≈ parrots, and a whole bunch of guinea pigs (nobody really knew how many), but everybody really liked puppies: there was¡ for each of them,Δ in all. And when ¡ or ≈ puppies decided that it was time to go out for a walk, then all the rest of theΔ puppies barked and bounced and insisted on coming along too! So, sometimes Jim thought he was living in aΔ puppy pack!


And you can imagine the stuff! They had big stuff and little stuff. Stuff to put stuff in, stuff to stack stuff on, stuff to wear, stuff to play with, stuff to admire, stuff, stuff, stuff! And because everybody kept getting more and more stuff, there was not just¡ or ≈ of everything but (I bet you thought I was going to hold up three fingers) there were far more thanΔ of just about everything, so nothing ever got put completely away.


I haven't even mentioned all the dirty dishes after each meal, or theΔ shirts andΔ pairs of socks which piled up every day.


One day, Jim woke up and said to himself:

"I feel stuffed - and it's getting worse."


So he went down to breakfast and announced that he had to go away for a while. Mother and Father and all the sisters and brothers were very sad, even ¡ or ≈ puppies looked dismayed.


"I won't be away for just ¡ or ≈ or evenΔ hours; I think I may be back in ¡ or ≈ weeks but certainly in Δ days," said Jim.


So Jim packed a suitcase. He put in just ¡ set of everything, except for ≈ pairs of pants and his Δ favorite books.


And then he left, with Mother and Father and all the sisters and brothers waving good-bye and ¡ or ≈ parrots screeching and all the Δ puppies bounding around underfoot, generally getting in the way.


Now I don't know how this story ends. Perhaps you'd like to make up your own ending.


But I think that Jim came back to Δth Street and built his own little house, in the vacant lot right next door to number ΔΔ. He visited Mother and Father and all the sisters and brothers and their pets and their pianos and their trombones and their stuff as often as he could. But every morning and every evening found him back in his little house which had¡ door and no more≈ than of anything, particularly windows: ¡ to watch the sunrise and ¡ to watch the sunset.