The highlight of the dog agility trial for us was when Asherel bought Honeybun a cute ruffly Scarlet O'Hara dress. Honeybun didn't run too badly yesterday, but she didn't "Q" in either class. At least she wasn't dropping bars or refusing jumps like last trial, and she was fast. But Asherel didn't seem too disappointed. She was just happy to have found the gorgeous dress with matching leash and hair bow. She brought Honeybun dressed in her regalia to our friend and mentor, Danielle.
"Really?" said Danielle, "A dress on an agility dog?"
Asherel, who incidentally will only wear a dress if forcibly wrapped in one by coercion, was wearing the dog head bow on her own hair. It had a big poofy florette satin bow trimmed in lace.
As we headed home, I was telling Asherel's friend about how I used to teach Art class in one room, while Asherel was a toddler, napping in the other.
Asherel, who is often exhausted after a day of trials, usually lapses into silence, but she perked up with this information.
"I remember that," she said, " I remember looking at Dad's Grateful Dead and Woodstock posters. I kept wondering why or how the Dead could be grateful."
She was a precocious toddler. She taught herself to read long before I knew she was reading. She had never told me this before.
"But what really confuzzled me," she added, "Was the part that said- Grateful Dead, Performing Live!"
In all my years of living with that poster on our wall, the irony of that statement had never occurred to me.
But what does occur to me now is that is what so many of us are- dead performing live. We are dead to the source of all life, yet we act as though we are living. And many of us are living a life of "quiet despair." I had a call from a friend who was very distraught. All the things she had hoped and prayed for were falling apart around her. And I think what contributed to her despair even more was she felt that her life was the only one so filled with struggle, that she had brought it on herself, (she hadn't), and that everyone else had perfect families with loving children who all rallied and nestled around each other in times of difficulty. What a disservice we do I think, when we don't share our struggles with others. She felt like the dead performing live- in her faith, in her family, and in her fate. I don't know about you, but I knew exactly what she was feeling. I have been there. We can put a pretty dress over disappointment, like Honeybun at the agility trial, but at some point, the truth of what we are feeling underneath has a way of creeping out.
I know that when I feel that disconnect with joy, with no reason to live victoriously, I read the Psalms. The Psalms like no other book in the Bible remind me that there are others who have felt they have been abandoned, maybe never loved in the first place. With heart wrenching honesty, they cry out to God in sometimes accusing desperation. But they never stop there- they always move on to the only comfort that they can find. God is there. He was always there. He will always be there. And even when it seems that the rest of the world is crumbling, His promises remain. The distraught psalmists always conclude that in trusting God, they ultimately found their way back to grateful life.
1 Timothy 5: 5-6
The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
Psalm 69: 6-20, 32
Lord, the Lord Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me. For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face. I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother's children; for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards. But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes. You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you. Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org