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Lessons From A Friend
In September 2003, I met someone who became one of my best friends and a great teacher. Learning from her has an endless fascination for me because there are wonderful lessons to be discovered in her intuitive and carefree nature.
From the very beginning of our relationship she grabbed hold of my heart and refused to let go.
When we were introduced speechlessness gripped me; my tongue moved around acting like it wanted to form words, but to no avail. Despite the fact that we were surrounded by people, we connected in the short span of time between heartbeats. She looked at me with these big brown eyes that were deep pools of curiosity.
There was also anxiety glinting in them, so I picked her up and held her on my lap; the angst instantly melted into an expression of unconditional trust. She was seven weeks old; our bond was set in concrete. My friend is a tri-color Shetland Sheepdog. Her full name is Augustina because she was born in August, but she couldn’t pull off Augustina if her life depended on it; that handle is far too sophisticated for her zippy character. For reasons having to do with sunsets on the lonesome trails of western lore, she is known as Gus.
A Faithful Companion
She is a faithful companion. In my early morning writing hours, she is often curled up nearby watching my every move as she waits for the day to start and we can go somewhere. Forever outgoing and sociable, she tags along wherever I go, but after awhile desires to be away from all the people action. Come to think of it, that pattern mirrors me.
I am convinced she understands every word I say, but has a selective obedience mechanism hardwired into her. Extremely intelligent and usually eager to please, her stubbornness rivals her master’s bend in that direction. This, I suppose, is only fair.
When Life Turns Up The Heat
We routinely go for walks in graveyards because there is a perspective and peace amongst the marble markers that is good for the soul. Not far from our driveway there is a cemetery where there are no signs restricting dogs, so it is one of our favorite retreats.
While strolling there on an extremely hot and humid day, Gus caused me to relearn timeless information. She jogged to the first patch of shade where she patiently waited for me. Remaining perfectly still until I was twenty or so yards ahead, she then half-walked half-ran past me to the next shady area where she promptly laid down.
I chided her for wanting to lounge in the shade all day, but she actively ignored me. She stirred up the gumption to chase a solitary butterfly, but mostly kept up a little hopscotch to the shade until we got back to the car.
It was quite humorous, but the application for spiritual health is vital: When life turns up the heat find comfort in the shade provided by the One who pours out grace that exceeds our need.
An ancient warrior-poet put it this way: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”
Follow Your Heart
Gus has a herding instinct that is deeply ingrained; she believes her sole purpose is to round up whatever appears on her path. She has a determination that is admirable. Birds are a special challenge: Seagulls, sparrows, swallows, bald eagles, pigeons or cranes always remain out of her reach, yet she never stops. Even when she is exhausted, huffing and puffing like a steam-engine, she keeps trying and trying again.
Canada Geese are a particular joy for her. We refer to them as Honkers and as soon as she hears them she runs in tight circles. She closes in on a gaggle and bursts into hot pursuit the moment they take flight. She keeps them in her crosshairs for fifty yards or so before trotting back to me with her whole body wagging and a satisfied grin plastered on her face. She is always so content after one of these efforts that I dare not tell her she’ll never be able to corral birds.
It is thrilling to watch her attempt to accomplish the impossible; to give everything she’s got to do exactly what is in her heart to do. It is a constant reminder or perhaps a confirmation for me to do what is in my heart to do with the best I’ve got in me; to pour myself out; to exhaust myself on a worthy cause and let the results fall where they may.
After all, life is short and eternity is long. Graveyards keep that truth in full view; as does observing my friend Gus follow her heart.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.