Tag Archiv: common sense

The dogged thing

Compliments of cooee at  morguefile.com

Compliments of cooee at morguefile.com

“It came with the wind through the silence of the night, a long, deep mutter, then a rising howl, and then the sad moan in which it died away. Again and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it, strident, wild and menacing.”* 



“A man’s or a woman’s?”
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered: “Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”*


*From, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


A large something has been dogging me for months. I’ve sensed it in the spaces of the trees. Glimmers, shadows, traces of things, then out of the blue, I catch a look at it: the dogged thing. I’ve looked for answers in stacks of papers, mossy rocks, old friends, long walks and in the silence of the night.

You, I’ve said as bravely as I could, I see you. I name you.

This all sounds very good. Except I no sooner name it as it changes. I name the tallness because it haunts. Shortly thereafter tallness is immaterial. There is an almost missing forearm impossible to avoid, which itself becomes irrelevant because the smell of cheese is so intense. But I cannot worry about cheese too long because I hear the sound of bagpipes not only in my head but in my bones.

It has made for strange conversations.

How is it going, a friend might ask, about the tall thing.

Tall thing? I feel terrible. The forearm is dangling precariously by a sinew. Apologetic for the confusion, I rename the dogged thing from tall to dangling.

Mine is a simple theory: naming things makes them manageable. Having to keep renaming the dogging thing has been a crisis of confidence, especially for my writing aspirations. Writers name things. That’s what they do. If I can’t adequately name the dogged thing, how can I expect to write?

We’ve been in a heat wave drugged by humidity. Thoughts beyond the immediate have not been possible. I kicked in the life skills/coping strategies almost as soon as it started. Hottest jobs for coolest times of day, hydration, hydration, shade, etc. Every afternoon I got the kids to cold water to swim or took them to the library to cool down in the air conditioning. It worked. In fact, it worked so well I decided it wasn’t needed.

Wednesday we did nothing to combat the heat. By the afternoon, sticky grumpy bodies lined the couches. Shrill voices complained loudly. Irritating acts occurred every ten seconds. Violent acts threatened. When night fell, I went outside for some air. Two lone bats flew the skies. The rest knew it was too hot even for the mosquitoes. The fans that had worked splendidly to cool the house on hotter days were pathetic and impotent against our stickiness that night. No one could sleep for hours.

Based on the weather, it could have been the fifth or sixth day of misery, but it wasn’t. Every day I’d taken the heat seriously had been just fine. Lying there, I thought about how sometimes you know more than you give yourself credit for. Then I thought about the dogged thing whose naming had so plagued me. Why had I insisted it was one name or another? That not knowing which name was the actual name was a failure? People can be named Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill and much longer names than that. Cannot dogged things have many names as well?

With that I sighed relief. The dogged thing was named after all. For the rest of the summer, we shall go forth to be sensible on hot days and not. As Mr. Churchill once said:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.


Epiphany Now

The Three Wismen Aka Halt of the Wisemen, by John La Farge.  (Because we wise women and men have to halt now and again to work up the courage to keep going)

The Three Wisemen Aka Halt of the Wisemen, by John La Farge. (Because wise people have to halt now and again to work up the courage to keep going)

Epiphany Then:

Wise men follow a star for a long time through strange lands. They are looking for a king. When the star leads them to the boy, they do not trouble themselves that a peasant child stands before them, they see a king. They kneel. They worship. They offer gifts befitting royalty.

Epiphany Now:

I don’t know how to follow a star, yet the heavens beckon. I long for that which is good and true. On my best days I pursue the glimmers. We’ve traded camels for cars, but the journey still stretches to endless some days.

It is difficult to recognize salvation in the simple and unsung. People talk about the wisemen risking Herod’s wrath, but no one talks about the courage it took to kneel before someone so unrecognized. To insist with their gifts that this unlikely baby was exactly who they were looking for.


So wise men three, or however many you be, here’s to a year of courageous epiphanies . . .

In the tears of a defeated nine year old in the bathroom, the siren call to set aside the lessons and love the girl. Maybe not just the girl. Maybe others, myself, the world.

In the stomping of a six year old, the insistent invitation to express my own frustration more gently.

In the lengthy explanation of Lego worlds, a glimpse of wonder. Things live and move and breathe without my orchestration or knowledge.

In the impassioned hopes and dreams of a 14 year old, a dare to throw caution to the wind and let the fire of love run madly down the hallways of my heart.


I took a nap on Dec. 30th. My husband met me with delight when I woke up. There was a surprise, he said. Downstairs I found him standing where the Christmas tree had been, grinning.

Decorations, lights, everything. Done, he said.

Thank you, I said softly. (The tree cannot come down before January 1, I thought. I never got to sit for one last night and look at the lights. I wanted to cry.)

You’re not happy, he said. I thought you would be happy. I’ve been excited for almost an hour.

I’m happy that you love me, I said.

Every hour or so for the rest of the day we both said the same things over again.

I thought you would be happy.

It was kind of you to try and surprise me.

The tree’s absence made me sad but the face of the man who loved me was there too. He had failed to love me as I wished to be loved. But he loved me. Epiphany.

Love has a history of awkward packaging. The baby came wearing diapers undoubtedly full at times. May we have the wisdom to recognize the moments of our salvation, the courage to kneel, and the good sense to bring royal gifts to the least of these.