Category Archives: Story

Walking Beside

A year ago today, we said goodbye to Maci and sat with her, stroking her sweet head, until her heart stopped.

Maci was the kind of dog who didn’t mind walking at just your pace on a leash. Before I ever knew her, she had won a showmanship ribbon at the county fair. She was little more than a year old then and retired from competition soon after, but she never seemed to forget the joy of having that skill.

Walking beside was a particular gift of Maci’s. She was a Chow mix and so as naturally aloof as a cat if you got mushy and wanted to snuggle her. But she loved to lay on your feet when you sat awhile. And if you let her off leash, she’d run ahead a ways then circle back to you, walking beside to check on you, then run ahead again before circling back.

In her final years, when I finally got to know her and care for her, she was mostly deaf, largely blind, indifferent about eating unless it was ice cream. Her back legs got weak and she could barely get herself upright if she was on a smooth floor.

Rest nowShe took all these losses in stride. When she slipped on the wood floor and couldn’t get herself up, she’d simply decide it was a great place for a nap. When she got outside in the dark and couldn’t see or hear, she would stand still, sniff-sniffing the air for all the clues — all the vast life and news of the neighborhood.

And when we would clip her leash onto her collar, her tail would always wag. Then out we’d go. For the first half block, her head up, she’d walk beside, briskly, at just our pace. Then gradually, she’d drop back. Stop to sniff. Pant a little.

We’d turn around then, head for home. We’d alter our pace, as she had finally trained us to do, letting her set the speed. Walking beside.

Tale Told Twice

Stories repeat themselves. They circle back over us, tell again.

And every time they reappear, there’s a chance a new story will break through, because in the Kingdom of Heaven, the teller and the listener and both part of the tale.

The very best storytellers enter into the world they are telling; they story from the inside out. From the inside, Truth is more real than facts. Facts don’t always tell the Truth, and the only way to make a story truly untrue is to tell it from the outside, in.

Inside-out, twice-told, True stories might just be the most magical, wonderful, intimate, powerful, holy exchange we can have this side of the Age to Come. They are the very best work a human heart is capable of. Heavy duty Kingdom work. And we should never, ever feel powerless in the face of a suffering and broken world as long as we have a story to tell into it or against it or through it. Story is oxygen — invisible but essential. It is a balm to my soul.

If I am ever suffering intolerably, tell me a story or ten or a hundred. And then tell them all to me again. You will be performing miracles, making all things new.