Thursday, May 1, 2008
The Preacher’s Corner
Dogs, children and memories are wonderful teachers
My Gracey is about the finest little dog a preacher could have. She’s a toy fox terrier — the sixth such dog in a line of terriers that have been mine since I was a tot. I know their ways and after a while, they come to know mine.
Gracey has only one bad trait. When she goes outside to play, if she’s allowed to stay any time at all, she finds the most disgusting things to roll in and comes prancing back inside acting as if she’s queen of the universe. She inevitably makes a beeline for my bedspread and that is where I catch up with her — just in time to see her wallowing and making a terrible mess. So, needless to say, both dog and bed linens have to be washed, and it always happens at the most inopportune times!
My friend Bruce McMillan explains the phenomenon like this. Dogs, says the ever-wise Bruce, are not offended by the various aromas of nature. “Their senses of smell are so acute that they find all the smells fascinating, a rich palate of fragrances, and sometimes they like to wear them.” (Yes, Bruce actually said this.) I find little comfort in this explanation.
Dr. Childers, my veterinarian, says that female dogs often do such things to throw an enemy off her scent. It is a way of protecting her puppies. My Gracey has been spayed. There are no puppies.
So it goes. She keeps playing and I keep washing. The last time this happened was just as I was about to walk out the door for Sunday school. As I soaped and cussed, my better angels reminded me that I ought to be kinder about the situation as I once caused a similar problem for my grandparents.
It was when I was a very tiny lad and had been allowed to spend the weekend with my grandmother and grandfather in their big house on Linden Avenue in Memphis. They had made the mistake of getting me ready first while they then retired upstairs to dress for Sunday school. I was going to accompany them to their class and I am sure they intended to “show me off.”
While alone in the living room, I spied the fireplace, which fascinated me. We did not have one in our house down in the Delta, and even though it had been explained to me several times that Santa Claus came in the front door to bring presents to little boys whose homes did not have fireplaces, I wanted to see just how the jolly old guy made his descent in a house with standard equipment.
There was no fire laid out that morning, so it was easy for me to remove the wire screen in front and step into the firebox and look up to see the glint of light coming in from the very top. I reached up to see what the bricks felt like and to calculate how so big a man could come down so small a passageway.
It was at just this moment that I was “discovered,” and I was so embarrassed to see how my little hands and arms, as well as my neatly pressed white shirt, were covered with ashes and soot. Surely that was only a foretaste of what I would find in my stocking a few weeks hence!
I do not recall that a single harsh word was spoken. It was probably my granddaddy who had told me all about Santa’s methods of entrance and egress just the day before! I am sure Grandmother realized the mistake of leaving a small child all dressed up and unattended.
The washing machine and dryer were quickly called into service, and with some soap and water on my face and hands, we were soon ready to go. I doubt we were too late getting to Sunday school.
If you have children or dogs around, your life is not going to be boring, and meanwhile, memory often humbles us, and can be a wonderful teacher.
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