Wednesday, October 28, 2009


  • A piece of food hits the floor - Ruby'll get it.

  • A student shows up for tutoring - My hand reaches reflexively for the gate to keep Ruby in the kitchen, even though before a bookbag opens students ask, "Can I go see Ruby?"

  • A knock on the door - I get up to answer anticipating the familiar tic-tac of Ruby's nails across the floor as she heads for the front door.

For several years, I tutored a young boy who took a real shine to Ruby. She would lie near the table as Alex and I worked together. Sometimes Alex would lie on the floor next to her as he did his spelling words or read a book. Though Alex has moved on with his studies, he often stops by to say hello and to see Ruby.

Halloween is just a few days away. Ruby always raises up and places her front feet on the window frame of the door so she can greet the trick-or-treaters. The kids ask for her if they don't see her there.

Over 13 years old, she still thinks she's a pup with her butt in the air and her front legs bent as she barks and tries to get you to run and play with her. She follows me everywhere; waits outside the bathroom door while I shower; shadows me from room to room even though her hips hurt whenever she gets up or lies down. I wish she would stay. I tell her to stay, that I'll be right back. But she insists that she should be wherever I am.

Yesterday, October 27th, was the first day she wasn't there to lap up a morsel of food that had fallen to the floor; to look at me with her head cocked to one side as she wonders why she's being banished to the kitchen this time; to beat me to the door as the guardian of our home. It was the first day she wasn't there to greet me when I came home.

There will be a series of firsts that will inevitably remind me of what is missing in our lives. And it's Ruby. You were such a good girl. I miss you terribly. Rest in peace dear, sweet Ruby.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Something's Happening Here

Daily I remind myself - Take a deep breath. Don't get sucked into this vortex of swirling emotions.

It has been nearly 3 weeks since the local high school teachers walked off their jobs. They've been working for months with no contract. Negotiating since March brought them no closer to a resolution with the board members than when the talks began. Though I am no longer personally affected by these developments, I cannot help feeling the impact of this event on our community.

I read the news articles in 3 local papers. I read the comments from a select few in the community. I feel my blood pressure rise. I have to talk myself down from the ensuing emotions. I have my own impressions of where the breakdown in communication occurred, but not being personally involved, it is all conjecture on my part. But still, it affects me. It affects people that I care about.

Finally, I find myself turning to God, reminding myself that all things work together for good even when they appear to be evil. I have strong feelings about the strike and whom I support. But I also must be willing to humble myself enough to remember there is another force at work that does not involve the school board, the teachers, the students/parents, or the community at large. That force is at work intimately and equally in each and every life affected in this community.

I confess that I do not feel so generous toward the one who seems to be at the fulcrum of this balancing act. In fact, I have been outspoken in my opinion and it hasn't been kind. All the players have been jockeying for a position of power. But in truth, there is only One who is really in control. It isn't about the players' attempts to impose their wills on the situation. It is God working behind the scenes using circumstances to refine us all as only He can. The players are exactly where they all need to be in order to bring about the greatest discoveries within us all.

So I yield. Not to the players, of which I am one in my own small way. But to God who is Lord over all. It is much more peaceful by these still waters than continuing to struggle against a tumultuous current.

Finally, I am beginning to see the bigger picture. And I now know, it's all good.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Point

I have been guilty of making a religion out of Jesus of Nazareth, completely missing the point of his intended purpose. My fundamental understanding of Jesus's message has evolved to an understanding that relationship with God is not afforded to the world by what we do or have done, but by what God has done. Namely, He has chosen love over hate, mercy over judgment, grace over retribution.

So many teachings focus on ritual - certain prayers, traditions, etc - and seem to miss the most important point. That it isn't about us. It's about God. Who He is. What He brings to us. And honestly, I don't see Him holding back. He is not tight-fisted, but generous. He consistently loves me. I judge myself. He does not. There is more love in His presence than I could ever hope to achieve or know anywhere else.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, He is always there for me, no matter what kind of day it has been. He hasn't abandoned me even when I have been deliberate in abandoning Him. That, to me, is the real gospel, the "Good News" of a loving spouse. No matter what, His heart and arms are always open to me. That is real intimacy. That's the point.