Twenty-eight dogs thundered onto the field as the hazing peach sky beckoned another beautiful fall morning. The sky was clear and the air was rather cool, requiring me to grab a jacket on my way out the door.
DDA staffers, Devan and Caitlin stayed busy with the morning hustle of chores, allowing me the peaceful freedom of time spent with the happiest hounds on the planet. And boy oh boy, were these pups happy!
Today’s group was made up of canine Cross Country athletes. They raced in large sweeping arcs around the pasture, zigging and zagging as they criss-crossed the field. A couple of the “senior” gals walked along close by me and together we watched the shenanigans of the younger generation.
The dogs divided naturally into two different groups. There was a pack of real sprinters that seemed to stay in high gear constantly. They didn’t stop to smell or hunt or track or wrestle or play. They, quite literally ran up and down the trails, through the shallows of the pond and down the fence lines at Mach speed. It was like thunder rumbling as they rushed towards me. Almost on instinct I held my breath as they raced by. The impact of being struck at the knees is enough to send a person sailing into the air… believe me, I know! So do a few of my staffers! But this group eased by me gracefully and disappeared down the overgrown trail.
The second group of dogs, while still runners, seemed more interested in checking out the landscape. They hunted brush piles, hedges and the waters edge looking for signs of life.
They seem to waste no time getting from point A to point B but if something caught their eye, the whole pack practically tumbled over themselves as they attempted to change direction on-the-fly in pursuit of whatever it was. There was so much activity happening at such a fast pace, I finally just sat in a chair to enjoy the show.
I noticed Hondo, a black speckled pointer standing perfectly still in the dark cove of the pond. He wasn’t in a traditional ‘point’ but he was certainly fixated on something. Even when his buddies would rush up to him, splashing and jumping in and out of the murky water, Hondo never changed his focus. He ignored the silly frolic around him and maintained his concentration, starring hard into the water. I watched him for several minutes standing like a statue amidst all the commotion, seemingly undaunted by any of the sights and sounds going on around him. Just as I was about to look away, I saw him pounce, plunging his head deep into the water. His bobbed tail quivered with excitement. When his head came up I could see the glimmer of orange in his mouth and I knew immediately he had caught a fish. And just as I jumped up from my seat, Hondo tossed the poor flailing Koi into the air and it vanished back into the dark water. Hondo plunged in after it! He leapt around the water delighted with himself, his big body rising up high and pouncing back down again! His joy made me laugh out loud. Then just as suddenly as he had exploded, he became very still again. Not a muscle moved as he peered intently at the water as the ripples he had made moved in big rings away from him. He was frozen, like a majestic peace of art planted chest deep in the water, patient, focused, watching, waiting for just the right instant to dive in. He stayed that way for at least another 15 minutes. In fact, even as I lead my canine campers back to the gate to prepare for clean up, Hondo was unaware we had left. When I finally went back for him, it was a process to get him to come to me.
Instead of being frustrated by Hondo’s lack of cooperation, I found myself impressed with his lesson. He was a dog so focused on the prize he could not be swayed or bribed or coerced into doing anything different. He seemed to know that his effort would eventually pay off… the trick was to never give up!
Life is full of distractions great and small. We get hurried and rushed and annoyed by circumstances that seem to impede our endeavors. But if we stay focused on what’s really important… If we keep our eyes fixed on the goal… on the prize… Then the annoying circumstances that attempt to distract us, seem to disappear.
Peter stepped out of the boat during a storm. The winds blew and the waves crashed. But he heard the voice of Love beckon him to come and he focused on that and he walked… even if only a few steps… he did the impossible… he walked on water! Only when he took his eyes off Jesus, did he noticed all adversity against him and he started to sink.
Love is a powerful thing. Next time you find yourself getting annoyed at something or someone, check your focus. My guess is you’ll realize you’ve taken your eyes off love. It’s as simple as that. We can make all the excuses and come up with a million reasons why we’re justified, but in truth, we’re either walking in the light of love or we’re not. And like Hondo, we’ve got to have faith that the prize is worth the sacrifice.
Remember, where iniquity abounds loves does greater abound. Just focus!
That’s Dog Church!