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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Rummaging and the Dog Story


It is HOT here--98 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. I am fretting about the tomatoes; if we don't get a break soon, they won't set fruit which means an awful lot of work for nothing. 

I have a busy week coming up--Gary has a job interview for (necessary) part time work doing something he loves and Joe and I will go along with him to get Joseph's social security card taken care of, Daniel has the ACT (he is not sure he wants to go to college, but I am making sure he doesn't shoot himself in the foot in case he changes his mind), and we've got to take paperwork over to the county seat to file to make sure that our ownership is official as far as the state is concerned.

It is also Rummage Sale week at our church (if you've been reading my blog very long you know that it is like Christmas and birthday fun and wrapped up together around here--treasure hunting for just a few dollars).  Three years ago I volunteered to set up the corner with the Christmas decorations at the sale. It is painstaking, slow work as we get a lot of Christmas cast offs and so much of it is tiny stuff so pricing it is a hassle. Additionally Christmas decorations didn't typically sell well during the summer. Knowing all of this, I decided to have fun with it anyway. I decorated the small trees we got in with the ornaments and tested lights and strung them around the tables, setting up the manger scenes, and so on. When I was done, we had a tiny Christmas wonderland. My "fun" sparked the Christmas spirit. For the first time people bought and bought and bought and by the the last day everything I'd set out was gone.  So it's become my "thing" to handle this (last year some other lady tried to step in and take over, but Mom, bless her, redirected her to some other "important" area). This year, Mom has asked the men-folk to drag out some lattice work walls and set them around my corner.  


VII
This is how you pray
They met in the woods across from the house—each one taking a separate route to the outdoors.  The Hound asked to go out. The Small Dog slipped out past legs when they let the cat in.  It was moon was high in the sky and, as the Old One had said, it was clear.

The Old One had to be the stealthiest. The Many would take note of an unprotected abode and take the opportunity to attack. He took the dog door on the back deck, slipped down the steps and crossed the road a few hundred yards from the house so his scent would not spark interest.

They kept their distance from one another, hiking their legs on trees, nosing clumps of brush, purposefully not looking in the others' direction.

The Old One tasted the earth near the base of an oak. The faint tang of a long gone female dog flavored the soil. Where are they?

Scattered, but mostly toward sunrise, reported the Small Dog.

 Fine. You take the boundary.

The Small Dog ran off barking as though chasing something much faster than he was.  

The Hound woofed at a nearby tardy-for-bed squirrel and it skittered away.

Take Sunset, but stay close to the house. The Old One limped into the trees.

The Hound raised his head, ears alerting, nose working on some distant problem. Where will you be?
I feel like praying toward Sunrise tonight.

The Hound knew better than to offer to accompany him. They had their jobs and and he knew from sobering experience that leaving one front unguarded could be everyone's undoing.
***

Just uphill from the house was a crest where the trees fell short of the sky's breadth.  The Old One stood there, head weaving back and forth, air scenting.  He could hear the Small Dog running the boundaries and the answering barks of the Hound from his position in the yard.

In the distance, on the wind, was a fainter bark and one just beyond that. They were the prayers of the Whole.  Battle scarred warriors, new to the faith, and those still unsure. Voices calling into the universe—truth seeking, calling for comfort and direction. He listened politely for a while, waiting for their songs to ebb, for the pauses to lengthen.

When it was time, he sat, tilted his muzzle skyward, and began to pray.

His was a melodious song of worship—spiraling forth from his chest and into the night.  Though he appeared to put very little effort into sending it forth, it carried for miles.

All the distant voices stopped. But those from the home front joined him. Small Dog's soprano, the Hound's bass rose from their positions and the three became one.

As all dogs did, they sang of past battles and thanked the Whole for blessing them with strength enough to defend their home. They sang of greatness of their Humans, meals, bones, love.  Of chasing balls by day and standing guard at night.

The song went on and on without interruption. The dogs from the surrounding hills were silent. They all knew the Old One and his was a rare enough voice on the hills these days and growing more so with each passing year. The other two joining him was extraordinary.  Something was either very right or very wrong.  Either way, the message would be important.

  In their last refrain, the Old One sang of their Boy whose destiny they knew to be greater than their understanding.  And he asked that the Whole direct help to them as it was needed. And finally, he sang of being ready to train up the next generation and prayed that the Whole would put the right dog  on the path to their Home.

Finally, the Old One finished and rested. Silence ensued, thick with distant tensions as other worshipers contemplated his call.  Even the night birds, tree frogs, and crickets were still, as though everything was listening along with him.  The winds wound back and forth across the hills as though it was hand delivering echoes to points far and near.

A faint, fluting note played, so high and thin, only someone who wanted it to be there would hear it.  The Old One’s ears perked and swiveled and his tail began to wag slowly.  The note was long, surged, rose a half a step, and faded. Another voice, a melodious bass picked it up, and his voice was joined by two others. More voices joined, all repeating his prayer, the Whole was lifting his message higher and higher, spreading it beyond the distance his voice could carry it on its own. This was how they prayed; bearing one another’s prayers upward and outward so that the heavens heard them and other members could add their own strength and faith to the mix. He was silent, basking in their faith and support.    

From the house, he could hear the Woman calling to all of them.  She sounded worried.  

Though tired, he felt renewed, as though he'd shed his years for a short time. He stretched and trotted down the hill.

The Small Dog joined him, jumping up and biting playfully at the air around his face.  Did it work?

That depends on what you mean.

Do you think the right one heard?

Of course.

But will they send help?

The Old One picked up speed. I believe they will.

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