Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Lost Voices

Lost Voices

I trusted the voice of my father.  He was a man of few words who never sang in church, but he could recognize the atonal notes of a lie like someone with perfect pitch and he had no time for the people who told them.  He lived by the rules of his heart, while I watched.  From him I learned that strength and honesty walk hand in hand, that humility and compassion are never signs of weakness and that a man is only as good as his word.  Daddy could say both "I love you" and "I'm sorry" without losing an ounce of his pride.  His voice was underscored by his integrity, it was consistent and unwavering and, consequently, I trusted it.  I listen to that voice even now, though it's been ten years since I heard it outside of my dreams.

Despite the cacophony of sounding brass and tinkling cymbals aloft in the air today, the silence is deafening.  So many voices have been sacrificed for political expediency and can never be trusted again.  Men who once proudly stood beneath the red, white and blue banner of "family values" now clump together in a frayed knot of self-righteousness, weakly defending their new holy policy of justification and end result.  But the curtain has been lifted.  It is now apparent that the outrage they once spewed at the slightest perceived infraction was only a theatrical act.  How long will it take them to realize that their voices have forever been muted by their own hypocrisy?

Many people of faith feel like they're living in exile because American Christianity is no longer known to champion the words of Christ.  By aligning itself with the vile and indecent its voice has reduced to a whisper.  By linking arms with the National Rifle Association (from whom we are told guns are our "god-given right"), it has muddied the truth with an ignoble cause.  It has looked away while the murdered are ignored, the survivors slandered.  We have listened for its outrage as the poor have been denigrated, both in speech and in policy, and heard nary a word.  While the immigrant is demonized in direct contradiction to the call of Scripture, it has stood by in a silence seen as tacit approval by many.  Kindness and compassion?  Decency?  Beauty?  Love?  All have been devalued by a misguided agenda that has far overshadowed the bright light of Truth.  How long will it take those aboard this off-course ship to notice no one on shore hears their voice any longer?

These are the days we never expected, the days we thought gone for good.  These are the days that can break a person, even a person of faith.  I have watched those I once admired either goosestep their way down a path I find reprehensible or choose instead to prioritize their own contentment, riveting their eyes heavenward and refusing to stand in the way of the lies currently prostituting the very faith they profess to follow, the very country they profess to love.

We Americans have always been proud of our spunk.  If we think we are right, we will go it alone if we have to, make no mistake.  For generations we have stood as a beacon of hope and justice in a fractured world.  With all of our faults, and we have them, we have generally been looked to as a people of compassion who have at least the desire for good.  This reputation is now in peril.  Yet there remain those amongst us who continue to shake their fists in the air, determined to defy the world if they must, not in defense of the good but in a defiant embrace of what they themselves would once have deemed downright ugly.  Our pride is being used against us by a man devoid of the most basic of decent human qualities, a man more than willing to break us into a million pieces for his own gain.

How many lies does it take to lose a voice?
One?  One thousand?
Two?  Two thousand?
How long will it take us to realize we're rapidly losing our own?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Dog I Need

The Dog I Need

My neglect of this blog has been appalling of late and for that I sincerely apologize.  Several of my readers have written to check on me and for that I am so touched and grateful.  The simple truth is that I have been busy finishing up a writing project that I've had going for quite awhile and after a day spent doing nothing but finding the proper word for the proper place, my brain is so flat it could slide right beneath my bedroom door.  I am left with no wit, no bite, no cohesive thought.  Add to this the one fact that will not be ignored:  I am raising a big puppy to be a well-mannered citizen of the world and that is quite a tall order indeed.  So I suppose I have indulged in a bit of puppternity leave and I hope you'll forgive me.

Andrew is growing.  You can almost sit and watch him grow, so rapidly is he doing it.  His feet are like dinner plates and neither he nor I are used to them yet.  He trips over them regularly; I trip over them only occasionally.  Apple, who began by tolerating him the way an elderly aunt might tolerate a bouncy new nephew she neither asked for nor particularly wanted, is now visibly fond of him and I often catch them napping together on the rare occasion Andrew naps.  He does sleep soundly all night long and has done so since the first week he came home, a fact for which both The Songwriter and I are extremely grateful.  However he has woke me up on too many mornings by sticking his tongue in my ear.  (Andrew, not The Songwriter.)  He was incredibly easy to housebreak, something we have been ever so thankful for.  When your puppy is roughly the size of an articulated bus, being easy to housebreak is a gift unsurpassed.  Also, he abhors vacuum cleaners and hair dryers with a passion usually reserved for the homicidal.  We are hoping he outgrows this.

At just five months old, Andrew weighs fifty-two pounds and shows no signs of slowing down in that progression.  I confesss to googling, "How big will my dog get?", more than once.  There are charts and the like online that profess to an accurate prediction for this, but frankly, the results were so alarming that I've decided to just wait and see.  I can tell you he is far too big to comfortably dine with his food bowl sitting flat on the floor so, whilst I search for a stand that doesn't offend my aesthetic sensibilities, he is eating off a big round hatbox, no doubt the only dog on the street to be doing so.  He is also now enrolled in a canine charm class to aid him in his journey to responsible adult.  We tried group classes but as he was both the biggest dog in the class as well as the youngest, and as he vociferously let it be known all through class that all he really wanted to do was play with his classmates, it was deemed advantageous to all involved if he was trained privately.  His legs are so long that when he responds to the command, "Down", he sticks them straight up and out before flopping on the floor with a theatrical thud much in the manner of a canine religious experience. His teacher has declared him "very intelligent" which should make me proud but at present is a niggling point of concern.  As I write this I just saw him run through the back garden with my underwear on his head.  If he learns to open doors we are in serious trouble.

He loves riding in the car and as we've enjoyed an unusually cool, almost cold, Spring, he has been coming along with me quite a lot.  Let me tell you, the sight of a huge black and white puppy hanging out the window of a little green Fiat has been the most reliable way I've yet discovered to put smiles on grumpy faces.  Stopping at traffic lights is a gregarious experience for everybody.

I promise to do a better job on the blog particularly as Andrew continues skipping to adulthood.  He is very funny, very sweet and quite the snuggler.  He is also very different from Edward, as I'm sure you can tell from this writing.  A friend told me when Andrew moved in, "God gives you the dog you need", and I think she's right.  There is a look in Andrew's eyes that reminds me of the soulful gaze of Edward but just when I see it and start to dip down into grief at that terrible loss, Andrew will do something hilarious and I burst out laughing.  He is the dog I need.