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The Spur

My dog died yesterday. We got a call from the vet that she'd been hit by a car. She was still alive when we got there and we had to decide whether or not to try and keep her that way. She was an old dog ? somewhere around eighteen, we think, and she was in pain, so we did what was merciful.

Then I got home to find an email from an editor saying he was rejecting a manuscript I'd sent him. The words took a while to sink in.

I was expecting my dog to die soon. She was very old. I was pretty sure that manuscript would be rejected by that editor. It isn't ready to be published. But it was still a bad day. A day when things die always is.

But now that the day is over and I look back on it, I see there were some good things in that space of twenty-four hours. I was able to put my hand over my dog's beating heart one more time and cry a little before having to go on with a day full of things that needed to be done. I was able to be thankful for the fifteen years that little ball of fur and . . .

There's a picture that has been circulating on the internet. It shows two rows of big German Shepherd dogs staring at a tiny kitten walking unperturbed between them. Under the picture is the caption ? "yea, though I walk through the valley ?"

I laughed when I first saw that picture. But it's really not a laughing matter. That kitten is putting herself in grave danger but she's oblivious to it. She's sauntering among her natural enemies as though she were out for a stroll in the park.

That picture reminded me of an incident that happened in Papua New Guinea several years ago. I was waiting for my daughter at the bus stop after school. There were a number of other moms and a few dads there, all waiting for their children to arrive. Then I saw a small group of large dogs approaching. I saw a lot of dogs roaming free when we lived in the Yukon, and I saw what those dogs could do, on occasion. It wasn't pretty.

I picked up a copy of a national newspaper last week, as I do now and then, to fill in the gaps in the news that television coverage leaves. As I read through the articles I thought of the Sunday School class I was about to teach. The class was all about greatness ? how our culture sees it, and how God sees it.

The articles were about people who were being lauded as great ? a man who conducts seminars on how to become a millionaire overnight, another whose company makes "the Porsche of snowboards," and movie stars who, when they decide it's time for a vacation, buy themselves a tropical island.

I pulled all of these articles out and handed them around to my junior high class on Sunday. The boys liked the one about the snowboards. We talked about why these people were considered worthy of having their names, and faces, in the paper. What had they done that was so great?

I was raised with all the tenets of The Church, and tried to do all the right things, say all the right prayers, keep all the right ordinances. I left it, convinced I just wasn't good enough for God.

Then one day all that I thought was safe and secure crumbled when I tried to reach for it.

My husband sought the answers first, and in seeking them found more questions, but also found the God of his childhood. I was afraid to look again. Afraid He still wouldn't let me find Him. But I took a risk one day, overlooking the Stewart River in the Yukon, and asked Him to show Himself. He did and my heart melted as I moved into a culture of faith, a community of believers.

"Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble." The woman was hunched over, her hands clasped around an imaginary ladle, as she stirred an imaginary cauldron and continued to recite the lines from the famous witches? scene in Macbeth. We, about twenty-five grade ten girls, were completely transfixed.

When our teacher, "Mrs. B," suddenly stood straight and announced, "That, ladies, is Shakespeare, and you are going to love him," we were totally convinced. Somehow she managed to keep us there for the rest of that year. We did learn to love Shakespeare and we learned to love "Mrs. B." as well. She was a demanding teacher but her style of teaching made her classes a joy. Macbeth wasn't the only play she recited, complete with voices and facial expressions. She became the characters for us and brought the plays to life.

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