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Best friends

There’s a man who lives down the block from me who walks his dog every day.

To my shame, I must admit that I don’t know his name, or the dog’s, though I’m pretty sure they’ve lived in the neighborhood at least as long as I have. I must also admit that I NEVER walk my dog, or myself, though both could certainly use the exercise.

Even though I don’t officially know this guy, I like him a lot. I like him because of the way he walks his dog, whom I also like. Whenever I see them coming, I either go outside or stand in my front window to watch them pass. It always cheers me.

You see, the dog is clearly quite old. I think he (and I’m assuming gender here) is some sort of collie/shepherd mix, and the gray around his muzzle and eyes is visible even from a distance. And he walks quite slowly, and a bit gingerly too. I wonder if he was injured once. Maybe he’s just old.

He doesn’t wear a collar or leash, but he doesn’t need them. He never deviates from the path of his faster-walking owner, not even to sniff the odd clump of grass or to pay heed to one of the thousands of frantic neighborhood squirrels. 

He simply pads along in his laborious gait.

Every so often, the man will stop and let the dog catch up. And sometimes, when the man stops, he will spread his legs and the dog will pass about halfway through the arch. Then the dog stops, looks up at the man’s face, and the man leans down and hugs the dog around the neck, scratches his ears and rubs under his chin.

Then they resume their walk.

Maybe next time I see them, I’ll go introduce myself. I certainly should, because I do like them, very much.

Office hours

To say that I’m a creature of habit is somewhat akin to asserting that my body is covered with skin. When I am forced to deviate from my routine by unforeseen and/or unbidden circumstance, I flinch and wince as if my dermis were being flayed by a rusty knife.

OK, that’s probably overstated, if not unnecessarily graphic, but there’s a point to be made. If you show up at my door unannounced before, say, 8 a.m. on any given weekday, you’re likely to be greeted with more confusion and even annoyance than with effusive welcome and hospitality. I have a dog for that, and she’ll be with you directly.

While the rest of my day is pretty much up for grabs, my morning is all about a routine. I wake up, without benefit of an alarm clock, anywhere between 4:30 and 6. Once vertical, I switch on the coffeemaker (prepared the night before); I step outside for a … um … breath of fresh air; I scan any email received overnight, with extra attention given to the electronic news digest sent by the New York Times; I look at the obituaries posted by a couple of area newspapers; I escort the dog outside for her morning ablutions (while enjoying a few more puffs of fresh air); and, during all of that, I slug down the day’s ration of coffee.

But the main purpose for this time alone in the darkness of early morning is prayer.

Given that I am a priest in the Episcopal Church, it probably comes as no surprise that I follow such a discipline. Most bishops expect all of their priests to dedicate time every day for personal prayer. However, if you were somehow able to observe my movements and such during this time each morning, you might have your doubts about what I was actually doing.

See, I don’t hit my knees at my bedside, clasp my hands together, close my eyes, turn my face toward the heavens and recite any sort of personal wish list. If that’s how you do it, God bless. It’s just not my style, not my preferred mode of conversation with my Lord and my God, which, at its most basic and pure is all that prayer really is. And the better and more spiritually nourishing part of any conversation is derived in the listening rather than the speaking.

So mostly I listen. Or try to listen.

But here lately, it seems I’ve had a bit more to say than usual. A LOT more. However, it’s difficult for me to unburden myself to my Lord, even though I know that’s exactly what he wants me to do: Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden etc.

It’s both fascinating and strange to me how hard it can be to exercise even the most fundamental – and beneficial – aspects of the Christian faith. There is no better therapist than God in Christ. His office is always open, you don’t need an appointment and he accepts most insurance.

Sabbath

The word means “day of rest,” not “day I should go to church but I’d really rather sleep in or play golf.” Mondays are my sabbath, and I plan to take full advantage. The house is reasonably clean, the laundry’s done and the yard doesn’t need mowed. So … I think I will grab some more sleep and possibly get in a round of golf – if the weather cooperates. See what I did there?

Welcome to my blog. I probably don’t need a blog, but for some reason at 5 a.m. on a Monday I decided I really wanted one. I do have things to say from time to time. Perhaps I’ll post my sermons here … at least the ones that make sense. I’ll definitely be posting my thoughts and reflections about Jesus, the Church, beer, grillable meats, the Kansas City Royals, what I’m reading, my dog, my cat, people I encounter (names changed to protect the innocent and the overly litigious) and whether it rained. Comments welcome but not necessarily heeded.

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