Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brief Encounters While Walking the Dog

Here's something I'm not proud to admit:

I don't walk the dog as often as I used to.

In fact, I am positively lazy in this regard sometimes.

A combination of two things contributes to this reality (okay, really three if you include laziness), the first is my ongoing problem with plantar faschiatis, which seems to have migrated from my left heel to the right one, now.  The second thing is our fenced-in backyard.  I initially began taking Scout for long walks every day because we did not yet have a fenced-in backyard.  But even afterwards, the habit persisted, until laziness and the sore feet conspired against me.

I think Scout does enjoy the free time in the back yard.  Sometimes when I peek out to watch here, she is just gazing medititavely into space, the tao of dog.  Other things, she is taking off as if to chase invisible prey.  This morning, I happened to look outside just at a moment when she was writing joyfully on her back. 

But I know she would benefit from a regular walk, as would I.

So yesterday my better nature won out over my sloth.  I put on my tennis shoes and a sweat shirt, put the leash on the dog and set out. 

It wasn't a long walk, not like the long walks we used to have, anyway.  But at the corner was a young mom who was waiting with her two daughters for the school bus.  One of the girls got on; the other stayed behind.  I recognize this family though I don't know them by name.  It seems they know Scout; she is more famous than I am.  The little girl wanted to pet her.  At first, it seemed that Scout was not going to oblige, but at the last minute she decided that being petted was a good idea.

I decided to take a risk and invited them to our Animal Blessing Service this Sunday.  They demurred; they weren't sure their dog was ready for public appearances yet.   I wondered if they had a church affiliation, but didn't ask.   

We started back down the block toward home when I heard a voice. 

It was our next-door neighbor, complimenting our newly-landscaped front lawn.  He seemed positively giddy with delight that our lawn now does not look as awful as it did before.  He was very friendly for so early in the morning.  I made a comment about the new priest at their church, and he mentioned that they no longer attend that congregation; they've been going to a local mega-church which does not make a big deal about their denominanational affiliation.  He likes it, he said.  I wondered what it was he liked, but didn't have a chance to ask.

So, throughout the day, off and on, I wondered:  I wondered what it is that attracts people to a congregation, what makes them decide to stay, or leave, to set foot in the sanctuary, or not.  I wondered what a person who comes to visit us is looking for, or not looking for.  I don't want to be the kind of person who reads a book (or books) and assumes she knows what people's hearts yearn for.  So, I just had two small conversations, and I wondered a little.

Scout and I have to get out more. 

It's good for both of us to practice the spiritual discipline of walking.

And wondering.

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