Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God-awful Day?

God-awful is a common term, but really improper, when you think of it. That said, were you to quiz 100 people about this day, 99 of them would term it such. It's cold, pelting rain, rising wind, barren trees. Just awful all around.

Savvy would be among the 99, should she be allowed a vote. I have to lure her from the porch with "cookies" that, despite my rain slicker, are soggy before we even make the woods. It's a four-bite hike to get her in there, and she looks skyward with trepidation. Meanwhile, I'm soaked, my Patriots cap dripping madly, my slicker, sweatshirt, and tee-shirt drinking up the cold rain, my pants soggy between the tops of my boots and the bottom of my slicker.

God-awful is the term that comes to my mind but I dismiss it quickly. It's improper to pair the name of the Almighty with an adjective like awful, and blasphemous to throw the description about. Ugly might be the best term. Wet, windy, cold, the color of October flung to the ground in a brown mess, with six months of lifelessness ahead.

And we venture deeper into the woods, Savvy shakes off her trepidation and takes the lead. Something has kicked in, the essential nature of a Labrador Retriever that makes water friend and not threat, that makes sticks and sod and puddles a fulfillment of the Lord's creation and not something to be endured.

Something kicks in for me as well. I'm even wetter but my warmth spreads outward, my soggy shoulders defying the awfulness of the day. I am the 1 in 100, the fool out in the maelstrom, the witness to God's creation in all its glory, even as He has stirred the clouds to drench dog and woman and woods.
Last week the colors peaked and the tourists snapped photos and ooh-ed and ah-ed about Indian summer and ripe apples and brilliant trees.

This week -- this day -- is mine, to be shared with a puppy who has found her God-given nature and thus exults in the storm. I exult with her, though perhaps without her, my praise would have been grumbles.

Thus is the essence of a dog. The ability -- the calling --to turn a hideous day into a God-awesome one.

De-Pooping the Pup -- Part II

So Savvy's a good girl this morning, comes with me through the rain and mist to the edge of the woods and does her business.

I go inside to fetch her breakfast, come back 60 seconds later and can't find her. She's a homebody, a front-porch pup who never wanders. I walk out in bare feet, in a mild panic as I call for her.

She's in the bushes next to the porch. Digging up BadCat's newly-deposited business. And of course, being a Lab, she's eating it.

I yell at her to "drop it" and shuffle her inside.

Interesting how she looks for cover to do her own poop, but is willing to eat cat-, deer-, dog-, or you-name-it-poop.

Is this me, Lord? Hiding my own sins but quick to dig up others? Taking a sick nourishment from someone else's fall?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

De-Pooping the Pup

Getting Savvy to poop is like pulling teeth (ugh, such an ugly image). There's no predictability to her function and thus, no easy way to ensure she's done her business and can be let inside among civilized folk. Yesterday I spent an hour following her around, waiting for her to go. Nothing, so she finally came inside and was penned while we had supper.

I took her out again, and she finally pooped. Ah, safe I thought, and brought her in to enjoy her company. We were upstairs, making the bed and playing. Steve was tossing a toy, she was running joyfully wild and we all were enjoying puppy time.

Then I smelled something. "Smell that?" I asked Steve.

"I never smell anything," he said. "You know that."

It smelled like dead fish. I sniffed his clothes (because who knows what chemical he'd worked with that day) and then his breath. Ah, sweetness.

"I don't smell anything," he said again.

My nose never lies. The dog had pooped again, a big present on the white carpet.

"Bad!" I yelled, and brought her to visit it.

She seemed to have no shame, and yet the fact that she went behind a chair speaks of some regret.

God's nose is far more sensitive, and his desire for me not to soil the white carpet far more exquisite. Is it any wonder sometimes He's got me wandering the "yard" when I think I should be let inside?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pain In The . . .

This morning I will have my sixth injection of cortisone into my spine. I've had my lumbar injected, my hip joint, and my hamstring tendon. Still, the Pain remains.

I've celebrated the Pain's first birthday on October 16th. That's not the day of the injury. I can't even pinpoint an injury. But it was a very important day for the company I worked at, and I marked it with hard work, mild rejoicing with co-workers, and a butt-full of pain.

Despite all the MRI's and injections and therapies, the pain remains the same. Today is my last chance at a steroid-induced relief. After Dr. S. injects my sacro-iliac joint, there's no location left to inject.

I have little hope of relief, because thus far I've gotten none. And it's an odd Pain, in some way, a blessed Pain. It hurts when I sit, dissipates when I stand, disappears when I walk. Is it any wonder I longed for a dog -- and thus a rationale -- for many, many walks?

No one sees the Pain, except perhaps Steve who watches me squirm in my chair. Marj sympathizes because she knows pain. Otherwise, it's an occult affair, no evidence of agony because I walk vigorously.

I can't help but think of the pain of others. Hidden -- deeply. Placed -- oddly. Agonizing -- silently. The pain only God knows because people walk through the world with no sign of sorrow and hopelessness. How does the Christian seek out such pain? The quick answer is that we don't -- we let the Holy Spirit bring it to us. But there are signs. Sometimes just a new wrinkle, like the one I have over my right eye. Deep furrows in the face from enduring. Sometimes a too-slow "fine" to the question "How're ya doin'?"

I need to forget that Pain, forget my fear that this last desperate shot to ease my Pain will fail, too. Need to stop worrying about the day when someone says, "Sorry, Mrs. Mackel. There's nothing more we can do."

Need to stop feeling sorry for myself.

Need to rejoice in the time and beauty and puppy that bless my walk. What grace is this, that I can walk without the Pain? What blessing should I walk forth with?

Whose pain to carry as I God-and-Dog-Walk? After all, it's a miracle that I don't have to carry my own,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fuzzy Bone Redux

I was mulling mortality, organizing my thoughts into something palatable (and dare I say -- forcibly intelligent?) when Savvy provided me an earthier perspective.

She found Fuzzy Bone.

Fuzzy Bone started life as Tasha's favorite toy. Tasha gave it plenty of go-arounds, even in later life, so that it became quite "icky." I stored it away with Tasha's doghouse and quilts after she passed on.

Sadie found it. Groady and sticky, it was not fit for canine companionship. For sentimental reasons, I asked Jamie not to trash it. I'm not sure what I had planned, but Tasha's death was still to near to part with her favorite toy. We should have thought to bury it with her but that was such an outlandish, insane event, we didn't think.

Someone -- maybe Jamie, or maybe I -- buried Fuzzy Bone under old brush and dead leaves on the edge of the woods.

Savvy found it this morning. It was not only soaked and filthy but it had a layer of green mold growing on it. This only enhanced its desirablility for Savvy. She will not be allowed to keep it -- and this time, it will be trashed -- but it heartened me before the icks set in to see my new pup embracing my old pup's joy.

I'll worry about mortality some other time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Cross Near the Woods

We've got a cross on the border of the woods. Steve made it for a Maundy Thursday presentation a couple years back. It's as rustic as can be, two sticks notched in the middle and wired together.

When the Maundy Thursday presentation was past, I couldn't bear to take it apart and toss it back to the woods. I hung it in my favorite sitting place, and too often pass by without even noticing. It blends in well, you see.

This morning I was depositing a Savvy-job over the wall when I did notice. I sat, wanting silence. The mind whirs and bucks, impossible to nail even on the smallest of crosses. The birds shouted and sang and squeaked, a symphony that finally brought me to silence, thank you, Jesus.

So I sat. Pooper scooper at my feet. Considering the cross.

Thinking how big one would have to be to hold a man. "Hung on a tree" isn't simply an Old Testament prophecy. Looking at my meager cross, a poor representation of what the real thing had to be to hold a man.

To hold a man. To kill a man.

How do I dare approach anything bigger than my Maundy Thursday cross? Even this one made of sticks has its own majesty, in an undying image of an undying man.

So I will sit. Pooper scooper at my feet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Certain of What We Hope For

Savvy and I were outside for the sunrise today. The grass was iced over, the dahlias destroyed, but there was a lightness to the air that infected the puppy, and she bounded instead of trudged to get her business done.

It's been a while since I've seen the sunrise, and this one was a beauty. In the Tasha days, we'd run down to the road and cross to the farm so we could watch the full glory of colors across the fields and through the branches of the ancient trees. Instead, I settled for the promise of the sunrise, a peek of colors over the trees that block the horizon.

Someday Savvy will be old enough and obedient enough to enjoy the full glory of the sunrise. Until then, I'll hold back...sacrifice my pleasure for her safety. And what sacrifice is that, really?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Never Say Never

Our Accidental Poet asked me the other day if we had snow yet. "Never in October. This is my favorite time of year," I told her. "Leaves blazing, sun warming, wind with just the tiniest pinch of the season. No. Never in October."
I wake this morning, struggle into fleece pants, boots, mittens, two sweatshirts (because I can't find my jacket) and get Savvy out for her first business of the day. Peering through the dark, I see never falling from the sky.

I'm calling it Accidental Snow. Because it's not supposed to happen this way. Too early, I'm not ready, it takes away the beauty of the trees and my last valiant dahlias fighting the inevitable.

There's a space between will and could and never. It's the latter space--between could and never--where God likes to play.

My head can comprehend the could but my heart fears the never, because the closer I get , the more God has to pry my fingers away from the maybe-later.

That snow coming down is today's Accidental Never. With God, it's never accidental. And I'm so afraid of slipping...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Image of the Invisible God

Savvy's second trip outside this morning was around 7 A.M. (Note the second trip...for which I hope to garner much sympathy.) The sun was cresting the trees in the east, leaving no mystery as to its rising. Because of its position, it shone directly on one of our second-floor windows.

As I walked around the lawn, imploring Savvy to do her duty, I discovered a "hot" spot in the air. Given it was a little over forty degrees and the cold mist was still rising from the grass, I was surprised to find such heat. I turned toward the house, realized I was being hit flush in the face by the reflection of the sun off the glass of that second-story window.

Sun--to window--to me. Not the most graceful of metaphors but I couldn't help but enjoy the power of such warmth, and the wonder of it being imparted to me. Especially because we think of the transparency of glass, and not of its power to give back light.

Were I only so transparent and yet so reflective.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bear Ye One Another's Burdens

You'd like to think that having a young puppy would be rife with opportunities to meditate on the wonders of creation, new life, love, and general puppy cuteness.

I spend most my time meditating on poop. More specifically, when and where is it coming?

Curious how Savvy can pee predicably. Her BMs, while blessedly infrequent, seem to bear no relation to what she's fed, when she's exercised, or even how excited she becomes. She has no angst about dropping a present, though if she poops inside, she'll be sure to bark and whine until I clean it up.

Savvy is at least showing some small aptitude of finding a spot that's out of the way. That requires me to dig out a flashlight and hunt down her messes. I am resolved never to let one sit in our yard but to speed and scoop, keeping our lawn pristine and my bare feet free of that sickening "what just squished between my toes" sensation.

Having worked through some issues with my church brethren this past year, it seems to me that crises in the body of Christ seem to follow the same pattern. With all our wisdom, we want to be able to predict when and where but, when we least expect it, some stinky drops in our mist. Sometimes it takes some doing to root it and scoop it before another joins it. Most of the time, we don't smell it until it's spread far and wide.

Oh Lord, if only my spiritual nose and my faithfulness were half as developed as my passion for puppy poop!