Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Love Your Master

The alarm clock rings at 4:30 am and through the cloud of sleep I hear Joshua’s voice telling Mama that is her 10 minute warning. I roll over in yet another unfamiliar bed, sleeping in this hotel room by the airport. I make her some breakfast burritos, kiss her goodbye, and moments later I’m back on my bed in a dark room after they whisk out the door.

Departures have been the main constant in my life of late, it seems. I, the girl that would love to camp out at home forever. But of the many aspects that make me dislike leaving home, one stands out above the rest - who we leave behind.

That little Christmas gift we opened in 2010, when dark eyes and blond ears peeped up through tissue paper - he took our hearts by storm. But apparently since then, we’ve taken his by storm. Because I dread seeing the desolation that comes into his face every time he sees our suitcases heading toward the door. 

It happened two and a half weeks ago. It happened a week ago again. And it happened yesterday, again. 

But this time the trip is short enough that he can stay home by himself without a trip to his kindly care takers. This evening I decide to leave him in the house where it is cool since Dad will be home in a few hours. 

Through the last minute flurry he gets more and more sad. As I’m running out the door the last time, I crouch down to his level and he buries his face against me. “It’s ok Rubee. Daddy will be home in a few hours. You stay inside.” I cup his muzzle in my hands, then stand up and walk out. He watches me with a look of sad resignation, then turns and heads for the parents bedroom to wait, for how long he doesn’t know. He’ll wait, until we come home. Sometimes that’s five hours. Sometime’s that’s five weeks. 


That night I kneel beside my bed. I pray, ending with a rapid and many times rehearsed “in Jesus’ name, Amen,” then I jump up from my knees and crawl into bed. And I end a conversation with God as summarily as that? 

The next moment a sad face flashes before my mind's eye. A creature so bonded to his masters that leaving their presence is grief to him. And I sometimes pray and calmly glide out of His presence so quickly, without waiting for a peep from Him. What in the world? 

Love always makes parting desolation. And we know how much we love God by how sorry we are to leave His presence.


Every morning when I descend the steps from my loft bedroom he reacts the same - sleepy face, wagging tail, unbridled happiness, walking loops around me and growling out his uncontainable pleasure. And every time, crazy dog, he acts as if I had never descended those steps before, for the joy of seeing me again - seven hours of sleep later. When I come home from a trip and pick him up from the gracious neighbors he always reacts the same too - running to the end of his leash and there leaping and squirming with constant squeaks of excitement until I come and lay my hands on him. 

And every morning, every morning, Jesus’ footsteps approach my soul and His sweet voice calls for time with me. And do I jump up every time, circling around Him in unbridled happiness, calling out praise in uncontainable pleasure, even though I was with Him 7 hours of sleep ago? Do I run to the limit between the visible and invisible realm and wait in bounding pleasure for Him to come and bridge the gap and shower love on me, as much, no, more, than He did yesterday?

Love always makes reunion unutterable joy. And we know how much we love God by how happy we are to be back in His presence. 


And so He has three little words for me today: 

Love your Master. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gift Given Back

And so right in the middle of a noisy music practice for an upcoming wedding, I learn that my horse's little sister and practical look-alike, my favorite since mine died on that tear-drenched November night, has the beginnings of the malady that claimed my Black Diamond's life.

Practice ends quickly, and I get into the Suburban and go there. I cannot stay away. If she dies too, it won't be because I didn't fight for her life. 

And on the way I fight the tears driving. Please, not another loss. Isn't three graves enough in the space of a year? Why do I need to stand over a fourth and look at the fresh mound of dirt blanketing a treasure?

I get there and see her, and she reminds me of my horse - her older sister - and all the pain and struggle when 800 pounds of velvet covered muscle lost the battle for life. And even as I watch this beauty hurt, I can't help but think of my beauty that lies buried only a couple hundred yards away. 

Hours later the vet takes her away with him. And I? I go home, hot, sticky, and tired, and wash the sweat away but the memories remain with me. And when darkness falls and during family worship I pray for the life of that beautiful horse, it is as if I am back in November again, with sweat pouring though the night is well below freezing, the guest cabin flood light illuminating loss lying still on the lawn. 

But even then my thoughts find themselves arrested in their track.

Loss? Actually, loss? Didn't I kneel on that lawn and give her back to the Giver?  Is it really loss when you give a gift? 

When I get up to my room, my journal and my pen find each other, even while tears stream down my face - 

"What You've taken I have not lost. Because I gave her to You willingly, a gift given back."


Two days later I stand above the fourth grave in an eventful year. Look at the mound, stand beside the girl that is just like a little sister to me, and it’s been only six months and she has buried her treasure, who was a little sister to mine. I think of how my brother said she was as pretty as a flower when he returned from helping bury her, even after her struggle. We cry together, because they meant exactly the same thing to us. I know how she feels. She knows how I do.  

We crouch in silence, one mound on one side, the other mound on the other side. Between her sister and the fence is buried the other half of the dream. 

These graves are mysteries to me. 

But they are not lost - not the treasures, not the dream. 

Nothing is lost if it is a gift given back...

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