Friday, December 4, 2009


Sometimes the words come easily, sometimes they are stuck somewhere between strangulation and suffocation. Sometimes they are fluid and generous. Tonight they are stuffed in between Puccini’s Tourandot’s agonizing pain and welcome surrender.

This morning I was preparing to visit wounded soldiers after having one of those moments. You know the ones that come flailing straight toward you and say ‘Hey you, pay attention.’ It all began with little Gracie.

Gracie has a myriad of stuffed toys, some with squeakers and some that have been eviscerated. For some reason, known only to this little dog, the ones with the squeakers apparently don’t measure up. The ones I refer to as ‘road kill,’ with no stuffing or squeaker, are ignored and ready for the trash can. But there is always that one, left intact, that is her favorite.

Being a favorite is an onerous responsibility especially for a stuffed toy. It is also the same for me. It is the first thing she seeks in the morning and the last in the evening. Everything in between is sheer folly and a full time occupation for her. Sometimes she will hide it and forget where, sometimes she knows where it is but pretends she doesn’t, sometimes she falls asleep with her chin resting on it, and then sometimes there are rampant trips up and down the stairs in search of it. And certainly no self respecting PBGV would ever consider going outside without his or her saber tail raised and favorite toy in mouth!

This particular morning I was running a little behind after having gotten up early to read about half of a friend’s book that had just hit the book stands three days before. The book, entitled The Power of Pause, Becoming More by Doing Less, tells me to ‘pause to be surprised, to let the cares of the day be carried away, and to let my soul catch up with my body.” You see I adore this man that wrote the book, but can’t find it in me to tell him that lately just finding my shoes is challenge enough for one day. Running late I set the book aside and search for my shoes. Gracie knows full well she will soon be summoned to her crate, with or without her toy. You can sense the trauma in the air.

As she continued to search I sat to lace my found shoes and suddenly took a deep, deep breath and leaned back to just watch her. I wanted to cherish the moment, as the book had told me, everything else could wait.

It suddenly became clear that I have been experiencing the same feelings as Gracie. I instantly knew how she felt. Sometimes you love something or someone so much that if you don’t know where they are or how they are, nothing else seems to matter. You can’t find them. Your life is altered. You expected they would always be there for you, always be your rock, always love you back and always be your hero. Then suddenly they disappear or are taken from you. You feel unstable, wobbly, and unhinged.

I watched this little blind dog race through the house, almost meeting herself coming and going, as she searched with all of her being for this one thing that makes her feel safe and comforted and complete. For both of us something is not right without knowing the answer as to where or how it is, or if it is even close by.

For Gracie, well she felt lost without it. I knew how she felt. It just feels wrong. If only you could just nuzzle the source of your passion, the world would be right again and joy would return.

I sat back and continued to read a few more pages in the book. Author and friend Terry Hershey says, “…some of us – no, all of us – break. Maybe from boredom, or lack of passion, or illusion of familiarity, or loss of childlikeness, or fatigue of spirit, or cruelty, or despair.” And then I turned the page and read, “At one time I believed in grace – but now I have seen it. It wasn’t where I expected to find it. I have found grace where I found God, and I found God in the pressure points of life. The grace appeared in my brokenness, messiness, and confusion.” He says to let your life heal, not by denying the pain, but by acknowledging it and keeping your heart open. I want to tell him this hurts and makes you want to hit something…but then I realize he knows.

And it was precisely at this moment that I heard the most welcome sound ever – the sound of the squeaker in the toy. Gracie bounded down the stairs with the squeaking toy in her mouth and raced to her crate with the greatest most unbridled joy I had ever witnessed. As I walked out the door she was on her side cradling the toy with great tenderness.

I had never been more envious.
Copyright, Patsy Swendson, 2009

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