Monday, January 16, 2012


A Renaissance artist who made the world's most prized vases. A foreign visiting apprentice came to observe his method. 

After laboring for many weeks with one piece of clay — firing it, painting it, baking it — [the artist] placed it upon a pedestal for inspection. The apprentice sat in awe at this thing of unspeakable beauty. 

But it appeared that the artist was not yet finished. In a shocking and dramatic moment, the artist lifted the vase above his head and dashed it against the floor, breaking it into a thousand shards. 

And then, quietly, he reconnected the pieces by painting them with a paint of pure gold. Each crack reflected invaluable gold. In the end, this magnificent, but imperfect, piece became the most valued piece in the collection.... 

And as you look into the mirror each morning and see the slow and quiet evidence of strain and stress, of passing time and battle fatigue begin to etch deeper, know that those are not meaningless wrinkles but lines of character and wisdom and beauty.

Saturday was not a great day....multiple disappointments and great injustice and plans that took weeks to implement demolished. People that I felt had integrity betrayed me, and more importantly, my warriors. I was thrown back a bit and then decided to shake it off, much like a dog shakes to release stress! 

Then later that morning with a slight chill in the air,  I found myself sitting quietly on the patio at a hospital in the warm South Texas sun watching a miracle occur.  A warrior with severe PTSD, grimaced as he worked his way to the ground with the help of his cane.  Kelsie went up to him, and with great understanding laid her head in his lap. No words were spoken.  No facial expressions.  Then my warrior began exploring each inch of Kelsie's head and face with such tenderness, softness, warmth and love that I could not get the lump out of my throat. He touched her forehead, her muzzle, her eye lids and eye lashes and for a moment, just a moment, I watched the hell he had endured in war fade away. It slipped into a moment that was mesmerizing, overwhelming and unnoticed by others. 

The beauty of it was that  he had that moment. That one moment. Perhaps that is all that was needed for both of us. His fingertips ran gently from the top of her head down her muzzle to her nose and then back again.  Kelsie was falling asleep, content in the knowledge that her job was just lying there, and absorbing the memories of a place and time that have caused a handsome young blonde headed man to never be the same. 

So where I was supposed to have been, and the rude behavior of another, apparently was for a purpose.  I was exactly where I was supposed to have been, doing what I was supposed to be doing ~ sitting on a bench while a dog temporarily took over the burdens of  a war brought home returning in nightmares and horror beyond any of our comprehension.

This morning I thank God for always putting me in the place where I am supposed to be.  And for providing me with a dog who is a sponge for pain.  Perhaps, just perhaps, she and other dogs like her, are the gold in the story above, that will glue some of our warriors back together when they come home to us broken into many pieces.

Life breaks all of us, yet many of us are strong in the broken places. 

— The Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin

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