In Front of St. Mary’s

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Earlier this week, I was told my dog who I’ve had for 14 years might have cancer and I had to tell a guy I really liked I couldn’t date him because one of our core values didn’t match up.

I went for a stroll hoping the chilly air would miraculously clear my head. It was only 6 pm but the stars were already out. It was completely silent except for the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet as I walked over the uneven sidewalk. The bells of St. Mary’s Catholic church suddenly broke the silence, so I stopped to listen. I was the sole audience as the reverent chimes rolled down the street.

I have always loved the sound of church bells. When I was a little girl at preschool program in our local church, the bells would always ring during recess. My two little friends and I would pretend that this meant a royal ball was starting. When we heard the bells ringing, we would hurry and “change” into our best dresses and go dancing with imaginary princes around the swing set.

I took a huge gulp of fresh air. Somehow, I think I was counting on the combination of a late autumn breeze and the kindness of a memory to soothe my frazzled nerves.

It’s anguishing to watch a beloved pet struggle to get up only to limp around in pain. What’s worse is knowing that there is nothing you can do. I’ve cradled that old white face in my arms and cried over it more than a few times this past week.

It’s discouraging to answer his call and hear his cheery voice only to cancel this weekend’s date because you’ve decided that the one thing you both disagree on is non-negotiable.  Things were just starting to click with him, too. He was sincere and he wasn’t fazed by my big personality. It’s tough to decide that none of that matters and then hang up the phone with suddenly no weekend plans.

I angrily kicked a pile of leaves in front of me. I probably swore. The leaves drifted back down to the ground where they belonged. The bells had stopped ringing. It was just me, the silence, and God again.

I turned to go back home and with each step I told myself, “He is still good. He is still good.”

Violet, my dog, has comforted me during some of my darkest seasons and she’s been my constant companion, road trip buddy, Starbucks drinker and she has had a very full life (she’s traveled to 20+ states!). I can only be grateful for the time that I have had with her.  She’s on a new medication that seems to have alleviated a lot of the pain, so time will tell.

As for this guy? Well, I knew I had made the right decision. I am encouraged that I was able to stand my ground even when the outcome was not what I wanted. And, as always, there are plenty of other things I want to focus on.  More mountains to climb. I really enjoyed getting to know him, so it was not a waste. It’s never a waste.

Take a moment and revel in your human frailty, whether your sorrow is about a boy or a beloved pet or something much more, and then look, beyond yourself, to the One who made you. Relying on God for a lifetime is not something that you do all at once. It’s putting one boot in front of the other and saying to yourself with each step, “He is still good. He is still good” and truly believing it.


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