The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


"Ok, so how do I do it?" asked another brave, but perhaps foolish soul.

"First thing?" I'd say, and my answer was always the same:  "Catch it when you fall!"

I don't know why I bothered.  The front and back ends were already torn wide open and the foam pad freely protruding and falling out.  I guess it was just the force of habit..

"What do you mean, 'WHEN' I fall?" they would always say.  And then they would always fall.  And they always seemed to protect their knees and elbows and faces before even thinking to save my unicycle's beat up seat.

Of course they fell, and of course the self-preservation instinct took precedence over uni-care.  "Aaaarrgh!"  I pretended to be so offended that my student again let my sadly padded seat bang against the hard cement floor in the long basement corridor of our high school.  Then I'd look around quick to see if any priests or otherwise grown up types heard the crash.  Always anxious that maybe Brother Fred would overcome his natural instinct to encourage our youthful exuberance and opt instead for fulfilling his obligation to protect and serve the building. Yet I was continually relieved that my little unicycle riding school was allowed to wreak whatever havoc it would on vinyl and tile.

"One more try for Jim", I might predict, depending on the zeal shown by this latest adventurer.  But with another guy, I might soon be begging him to give it back for a while, because he was persistent and brave and actually learned early to catch it when he fell.  Once that happened, I knew I had a convert and I knew what he would be asking his parents for for Christmas.  The newly acquired and quirky skill of unicycleing would soon be born in another family and neighborhood back home.

When my brother Pat left home to go to this same seminary boarding school, he came back a skilled unicyclist, so my sister and I soon picked it up.  I took Pat's new Christmas present back when I "followed the call", and I passed back the mastery I had gained over balance and precession, to any who would dare.

"Precession?" you say.  Have you noticed that when you are riding your bicycle, you only need concern yourself with balance when you are going very slowly?  The same force exerted through conservation of angular momentum that keeps a spinning top from toppling, and keeps the spinning wheels of a bike from dropping to either side: precession, works for the unicycle as well.  The fore and back balance, however, is accomplished through the peddler as he works to keep his one tire directly between himself and the center of the earth.

Simply being willing to move forward in life tells God that we will trust Him to keep us from falling over, and He does.  He provides the spiritual equivalent of precession.  But if life is like riding a unicycle (Don't forget to "Catch it when you fall!") then we are responsible for the pedalling.  We should move just fast enough or slow enough to keep our lives centered over His will.

No need to call me "Father Miller".  By the time four years of seminary had passed I was aware that I was more interested in being a Dad than a "Father".   And within a year or so of going to a public college, I finally heard the Gospel, and found my spiritual balance.  I would be saved by His Grace (the precession?), and pedal on to be married and raise a family!


  1. Beautiful analogy. I've never attempted to ride a unicycle, but I'm sure I would have done great when I was younger. I could never do it now, because I can't even ride a bicycle anymore. But, as a kid, I often rode my bike without hands and even learned how to turn without using my hands, so I'm sure a unicycle would have been easier than that. LOL

  2. I'm the exact opposite to Angie, couldn't even ride a bike without wobbling. Unicycling is definitely something to admire from afar for me :-)

  3. like a child...enter in....and truly partake in His Kingdom; guess it does take our "first step" and He wheels right in to love on us the whole journey through! LOVE THIS yup cycle on in life not thinking of the "foam" safety hehe

  4. This is wonderful! I am always trying to stay balanced in His way and I know only one thing for certain...He is my training wheel assembly.
    So well done, as usual. :)

  5. This is a really EXCELLENT blog. A member of one of my critique groups does an advent meditation book each year, and I love it because she uses everyday events and objects to lead into a little lesson. This piece does that same kind of thing.

  6. This is a wonderful post!! I thoroughly enjoyed picturing you attempting to balance on a unicycle. I love how you worked a lesson into your blog making it even more remarkable!


  7. I love the way you write, but I worry about anyone who rides a unicycle. Brat rides a unicycle.
    My lack of balance, er, patience, keeps me firmly landlocked.

  8. Such an excellent post!! I love how you tied in the Unicycle. I'll be thinking about this post all day :) Thank you. Cheers, Jenn

  9. Pedaling, just keep on pedaling...

  10. Heck, I wasn't expecting the lesson--I was into the unicycle! I LOVE how the lesson comes so effortlessly! Way to go! lol! :) This was a great read, and it ended with a beautiful picture!

  11. Thanks to ALL! Your comments are always greatly appreciated and I am encouraged...but hungry. Nobody left a pizza!

  12. Being a daddy is a special calling.


  13. I agree Joyce, and I wouldn't have it any other way!


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