Friday, March 28, 2014

Greener Pastures

I might have had a little meltdown last night . All because of the “A” word. And the “D” word. Adventurous Dog.

My stupid dog likes adventures. She doesn’t like secure backyards—a closed gate is an invitation to dig her own tunnel. She doesn’t care if she’s locked in a crate—she just channels Houdini. And running through a back pasture doesn’t make her feel contented—it makes her think she’s Superdog and can jump high fences in a single bound.
She can.

Yesterday she went AWOL while we were on vacation. Instead of terrorizing our daughter’s goats and showing the roosters who’s boss, she went over the wall when no one was looking.
This is starting to become a habit. And it’s really cramping our style.
She hates the car, so we can’t take her on trips with us. We’re wearing out dog sitters. And neighbors. And welcomes. Even the microchip company wants their chip back.
I’m at a loss.
We’ve owned this crazy, friendly, loving animal for ten years, ever since we rescued her from the pound—and certain annihilation, I might add. Don’t you think she should feel grateful and kiss our feet every day?  Okay, well, she does kiss our feet every day. And lick our faces and our jeans and our furniture and the sliding glass door . . .
She weighed thirty pounds soaking wet back then and when she lay on the floor she looked like a bath towel with ribs. You should see her now! We fattened her up a whole eight pounds. We gave her a place to sleep, her very own personal name, and we pamper her with five dollar squeaky toys that she punctures and disembowels in five minutes flat. I even call her into the kitchen every time I spill food on the floor just so she can feel important. And she has her own Christmas stocking.
I ask you, what more could a dog want???
Maybe she’s having an identity crisis. I think she’s part ferret. She weighs 38 pounds soaking wet, but it’s spread out stem-to-stern a good three feet long. The dog’s a freaking noodle. She’s squeezed through places not even a cockroach can master.
At least there are compassionate, honest people in the world who take in runaways like her. Neighbors captured her and kept her from becoming coyote chow. But she’s too self absorbed to be grateful. My daughter retrieved her this morning and sent me a picture of our dog staring somberly out the back door, looking like Dorothy without her red shoes.
Well, she brought it all on herself.
She did the crime and now she’s doing the time. She’s in the slammer. The lockup.  The Big House. Until we pick her up and take her home, Katy said she’s on house arrest and will only be allowed supervised yard visits. No more herding the goats without a license. No more barking at the horses. Even the exhausted mousers are grinning like Cheshire Cats. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they all put her up to it . . .
Come to think of it, I bet they saw her coming a mile away. That’s plenty of time to plan a scam. A little high five between the goats, a fist bump among the chickens, and Sydney’s goose was cooked. Yeah, yeah, it all becomes painfully clear!
There's no place like home, city dog—you weren’t made for Adventure. It's time to face the truth.
You’re just no match for livestock.

Photo courtesy of Katy Brady.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tea For Two

“Can we have a tea party, YaYa?” she asked, her five-year-old eyes wide with anticipation.
I hardly ever say no.  The old china cabinet—really just a bookcase in disguise—has shelves full of double-stacked, floral-patterned teacups. And everybody knows real teacups are a lot more fun to use at a tea party than tiny little plastic ones.
She knew I’d say yes. Immediately, she began pulling on the cabinet’s doorknob, but that’s where I had to intervene.
“Let me open the door, Allie,” I said as I crossed the room.
It’s a temperamental cabinet with precarious shelves and an uncooperative knob that doesn’t even oblige me very often, though it’s known me for twenty-five years. You’d think it’d give me a break. Actually, that’s what I was afraid of. I didn’t want the door to come flying open and baptize my grandbaby in broken porcelain.
But how do you explain that to a five-year-old with an “I can do it!” look in her eyes?
This morning, lost in thought, I found myself staring at that stubborn old cabinet across the room for no apparent reason. I like the unique beauty of its every single cup. I even like the weathered wood of the doors, which sort of keep my little treasures safe behind glass.
But I wasn’t thinking about tea parties or broken teacups today. I was thinking about broken hearts. Broken relationships. Broken dreams.
And forgiveness.
Right now, listening to easy jazz in my favorite coffee shop, I don’t want to go back to my dark thoughts of this morning. It’s painful, and kind of embarrassing, to cry in the middle of Starbucks. You’ll never know the end of the story unless I do, though. Thank goodness the napkins are plentiful and free here.
I have some broken relationships that I would really like to mend. And, as a “good Christian” and decent human being with failures of my own, that seems like the right and proper thing to do. Advice is plentiful from the well meaning. “Forgiveness is for you,” they say, misunderstanding what’s already happened in my heart. “You don’t want to become bitter, do you?” Easy words spoken from the pseudo safety of ignorance. How quick we are to think we understand someone else's heart without taking the time to listen.

You see, forgiveness isn’t the issue. Trust is. How do you have a relationship without trust?
Injury caused brokenness and estrangement.  And even though I’ve addressed the wound with professionals, the pain keeps resurfacing, taunting me with a promise of total healing if I will just get on the phone, explain my silence, and let bygones be bygones.  “Then we could all move on,” goes the thought.
But I’ve learned that forgiveness doesn’t heal wounds or wound heels. Instead, it extinguishes  my claim to revenge. That’s the part that frees a crippled heart—surrendering the right to retaliate. Still, like a soldier wounded in battle, years later you can find yourself imbedded with shrapnel. After one terrible experience. Eventually every piece will come to the surface, but seldom all at once. And, one piece of shrapnel at a time, you must deal with the wound caused you by someone else.
Even if you forgave them.
So I leaned on the counter today, staring at an old china cabinet that threatens at any moment to surrender to old age and throw a dozen fragile teacups onto the tile floor. And I remembered how eager my granddaughter was to open that difficult door all by herself. Determined to enjoy a party with me.  Impatient to help.
And I heard the Lord.
“You’re anxious to help Me, too,” He said. “But you told me you’d let Me handle it.”
He was right. I did.
“If you try to fix this relationship yourself, instead of waiting for Me to do it, you’ll regret it as much as if Allie opened that door by herself.”
I got the picture—I’m quick like that.
I also got relief. He wasn’t disappointed in me. He does not expect me to “fix” things. He’s still removing the shrapnel, piece by painful piece, from my heart. Healing, and maybe even some amount of reconciliation, will happen on His timetable—not mine or anyone else’s.
He’s the only One Who can safely open those fragile doors.