Our beautiful 96 year old Grandmother, Ruth
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Our Grandparent’s beloved dog Duke,
looked just like this German Shepard!
Oh it was sheer pandemonium, I recall that hot summer Washington, DC afternoon vividly. Our summer playmates-the kids on the block were happily playing, laughing tossing and kicking the ball. Some were huddled together plotting their next fun activity. My brothers, cousins and I always seemed to be the magnet for that end of 18th Place, South East Street. This was a part of our annual summer ritual of converging at Granny and Grand Pop’s for the summer. We traveled with our mother from Buffalo, New York and my cousin’s generally arrived a week or so later from Fort Worth, Texas. Our parents would return home and we’d remain, the 7 cousins with our grandparents. This particular afternoon Granny stood at the screen door gazing out, probably “checking on us”, ensuring that our playful mischief was controlled. And I am sure she could see her little neighbor Grady from her view. He also stood on his porch peering out at the kids playing. He was the little brother which did not always comfortably fit in. His awkward moves and age prevented him from actively joining in. As I played in the distance with other kids I could see them both from my view and noted that the identical brick row houses allowed neighbors to also see other porches and the street clearly. I distinctly heard Grady yell in a distressed voice, “Duke is loose!” Once this vocal alarm registered, the screams of the children echoed terror!
The platonic made for movie “kids playing in the street scene” was transformed in a flash! Kids ricocheted north, south, east and west on the street as Duke freely galloped past my grandmother, through the screen door and towards Grady! Grady moved swiftly, his little legs carried him off his porch and towards the wooded area behind the row of houses! It was a dramatic scene, his screaming, crying and running! His thoughts must have been swift! But thank God for diversion! His brothers, my brothers and cousin masterly distracted Duke in his hot pursuit of Grady. It’s a blur after that, but Duke was corralled, cut off at the pass and ran back towards Granny. Did I mention that Granny in a somewhat shrill voice called Duke to come back? That was not the trick! But Grady was not bitten, just shaken up.
This pure black German Shepard in appearance was massive and menacing from the moment I saw him! But he never snarled or barked at us or got aggressive. Now friends you might think that’s because he was familiar with us. And I’d have to argue that our acquaintance was only once a year. So the dog could have bypassed familiarity and claimed his territory! This was not the case.
Friends, Granny called Duke a puppy. This was funny to us, because his size belied infancy! Not only was he her puppy, he suffered from arthritis and moved as though he were in continued pain when he was indoors. Outdoors, he pranced, barked loudly and peered out the fence. Daily he needed assistance and if he wanted to walk up the stairs. Granny would push him from the rear with great determination up the basement steps. I share this with you in the wake of another daunting bombing which occurred during Boston Marathon. I began reflecting on fear before this terrible occurrence. And the coincidence is uncanny, that the media and our community is now openly discussing reborn fear possibly hindering our daily lives! Fear of continued destruction, fear of racial profiling, fear of a loss of life that we comfortably regard, fear of loosing our faith, fear of having no peace, and fear of _________ ( you fill it in)!
I realize that the Holy Spirit desires that I reflect and share my understanding of how fear can paralyze us. But I distinctly recall Bishop Bronner sharing during a bible study that fear is false evidence appearing real! Until then, never had I heard that truth, nor considered that fear is as real as we believe and experience it to be. Overcoming fear is a real possibility! There is power is changing our perspective, our way of thinking and operating! But what of the instance when the dog is chasing you? Now that’s real! Grady’s case is real, but the fact that Duke had some real physical limitations is surprising and factual. The big, bad Duke was frail on most days! If our play mates had only known, lived with Duke-they would have understood that his bark was really bigger than his bite. But only my immediate family knew that! If only collectively as traumatized folks, we understood that our fearful states are meant to be short lived! So as our President Obama eloquently stated today at the Cathedral of The Holy Cross, “…we will pick ourselves up, we will keep going…we will run again!” Amen to President Obama for expressing our spirit’s sentiment!
Yes, there are instances where we will experience helplessness, tragedy and know it intimately. Possibly we’ll be badly injured, frightened and consumed by hurtful seasons! But thank you Jesus, that’s not the complete and accurate picture regarding our resilient spirits! The healing God of our ancestors, the loving God in us and endearing assistance of the divine Holy Spirit will save us! Be encouraged, be vigilant-go back to embracing life, run life’s marathons and intentionally celebrate moments of living with great purpose! The “Duke” experiences are false evidence appearing real! Thank God we will not concede defeat!
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.
We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
(NLT) 2 Corinthians 4:8
Shared in Love, Linda Mose Meadows; Blogger, Motivational Speaker and Inspirational Author of: Destined To Receive: Reflections and Devotionals Celebrating The Love of God (Createspace, 2013) and Blessedness of Believing A Devotional Journey of Life’s Lessons and God’s Promises (Tate Publishing, 2007)