Millie, our little Pom-chi has done a thoroughly good job of training us.
She tells us clearly what time we have to get up in the morning; 7.30. She tells me when it’s time to take to the streets towards the end of the evening. Just twenty minutes left of Vera, but no, it’s time to walk the streets. Then she decides when it’s bed time. Being naturally compliant in the face of authority we’ve settled nicely into our new captivity. Early nights and no lie ins.
In all these changes a new world has opened up. In the early mornings we’re getting to know about trees and birds and squirrels. In the evening, we give the local drug dealers a wide berth, preferring to get to know some of the locals sitting outside their homes, smoking last cigarettes. I look out for Frank. These past few weeks he’s been getting excited about being taken to Manchester to see his brother for the first time in 40 years. They’d been estranged but time was healing the wounds. This week he’s back, telling me all about it. He seemed a little wistful. Perhaps the meeting didn’t quite measure up or perhaps now he had nothing to look forward to.
I pray for him daily, waiting ’til I can tell him some stories of my own. I’ve lots to tell him, but I need to be patient. Slow down.
I meet other people; learning not to walk on by if someone might be in distress, or wants simply to talk. I might be the first friendly face they’ve seen all day. Millie will keep me from danger. She passes most people without a sound, but every now and again she issues a sharp warning. What she knows and how she knows it she ain’t telling; smell comes into it somewhere. I apologise to these people; ‘she’s a rescue dog’ is my mantra. They nod understandingly and tell me their own experiences with rescue dogs. She’s not really a rescue dog, but it serves. I’m beginning to suspect this is how Anita describes me to her friends; unpredictable, grumpy, but loveable.
Perhaps we all need to slow down.
I guess the Good Samaritan wasn’t just a good man. The other two weren’t bad as such; they were simply going too fast with important civic duties to perform, blind to the drama being played out. The Samaritan, yes he had sensitivity, integrity and compassion, but he was aware at a deep level that our lives are all bound together in a common humanity. He took time, slowing down, to respond to a man abandoned in a ditch, much as a child will. I wonder what the lawyer made of it it?
Lord, may we look at others
as if through your eyes,
less judging, more loving,
and seeing them, like us,
as not perfect or finished
but as a work in progress
that will be completed
in due time by your hands.
Lord, teach us to be good neighbours,
not just to the folk who live nearby
but to everyone that we meet,
to see the best in, and want the best
for all your precious children,
who might one day return
to their Father’s house
and the warmth of your embrace.