Tag Archives: dog

Elijah and the Stone Dog

dog statue

The brown and white English spaniel sits erect on the broad green lawn. Elijah, trotting along beside me, halts, stares, and sniffs the air.  My black lab and I look at the dog sitting still as stone. He wears a small box at his throat. Elijah has seen stone dogs before and stone rabbits too. Once he went up to sniff a stone deer standing in someone’s front yard and barked and barked at it. Giant inflatable Halloween yard ornaments, jiggling and bowing in the wind, scare the wits out of him.

Elijah scents the air again, nostrils dilating, inhaling the meaning of this mystery. Then he tilts his head, wags his tail, tugs at the leash. This dog is not stone! Yet the spaniel remains still, forlorn before this large house on its immense, immaculate sweep of real estate, free of unsightly fences.

Elijah bows and barks. The dog sits, unmoving. I walk closer and say, “Hello, little dog. How are you today?” He gazes into my eyes with a soulful intelligence and silent pleading, which take my breath away. When I speak again, he replies in a whimpering yelp.

As Elijah and I move on, the pup rises and silently follows us along the line of his invisible fence.


Anymore, I have less and less stomach for keeping things in cages – dogs, rabbits, people, theories, truth, God. They won’t stay anyway. When you force them to remain, they wilt, turn gray, and whimper.


Do you see something or someone wilting and whimpering around you, or in yourself?   What does it mean for you to release the captives?

Dog Diplomacy

Eli and JL

Elijah and Jean Luc say, “Here we are. Send us!”

The Dallas zoo has sent in a black lab puppy to calm their two new eight week old cheetahs. The zoo’s creative means of comforting the newcomers got me to thinking about the untapped potential of dog diplomacy.

We already know dogs sniff out drugs, improvised explosive devices, and cancer. They find injured and lost people in disasters. They comfort the sick, the dying, and the grieving. They listen to little kids learning to read. They round up criminals, protect property, and their companions. They help the blind see, the deaf hear, and the disabled accomplish many tasks. They dive into water and retrieve whatever we tell them to bring back. They lower our blood pressure, make us laugh, and love us unconditionally.

So here is a proposal for the US response to our intractable problems and never ending crises: form a Labrador Diplomatic Corps.

Just imagine what parachuting pups might do for the state of world peace? These guys do eat a lot. So the LDC would need to be followed by a shipload of chow. My plan would still be cheaper and way more fun than any of the other options I’ve seen put on the table.

I say put a few pups on that table. Let em run around between the legs of world leaders and chew on their shoes. Let the pups fall asleep in their laps and wake up and kiss their faces. Let the doggies run off with all those piles of papers, attaché cases, and hand held devices. Let them rip and tear all that diplomatic gear and fussy protocol into tiny bits and then pee on them.

I think the whole world might breathe a vast sigh of relief.

Lab Diplomatic Corps demonstrating team work.

Labrador Diplomatic Corps demonstrating team work.


Young member of Lab Diplomatic Corps preparing for training with nervous baby cheetahs. Once he has mastered this diplomatic task, this pup will graduate to lying down with lions.

An Advent Story

The people gathered in small clumps, on this Sunday early in Advent, chatting and laughing before entering the sanctuary.  Some sipped coffee while they caught up on the week’s events.  Outside in the bright sun the children were playing.  A man with a yellow dog who was walking by the church stopped and asked the children for directions to the rail yards.

The children invited the man into the church.  They tied his dog outside and brought it a bowl of water and someone gave it a cupcake.  They led the man to the preacher, telling him that the stranger needed directions and a little money for food.

The preacher, tall, well-groomed in his black robe and satin stole looked at the man and caught the smell of whiskey.  He invited the man to worship and said that afterwards we’d see about some food.

That Sunday amid the handsome suits and stylish dresses, the colorful wool sweaters, and the neatly styled hair and deodorized bodies, sat a man in a torn jacket, baggy pants and wearing shoes with cracked soles. 

They had gathered on this morning to keep their observance of Advent.  They spoke and sang of things to come, of waiting, of expectation, and of hope.  The minister admonished the people to be alert, on the look-out, for Christ might come at any moment.  Afterwards the people went downstairs for a pot-luck lunch and an afternoon of games and songs and making gifts for shut-ins.

The man in the torn coat did not join them, though he was invited.  He sat on a gray folding chair upstairs and talked about Jesus and wept.  He said he knew he had done bad, that he was just a bum.  He rode in empty boxcars across the country with his dog.  Then he said his father sold him when he was six for a case of beer.

The pastor was uneasy.  He needed to be downstairs to say the grace.  Was the man’s story true?  How many other churches had he been to that morning?  He handed him a sack of food and drove the man and his yellow dog to the rail yards.

The children who had found the man asked their teacher why he had no money and why he wouldn’t stay with them and how could your parents sell you and wasn’t his dog wonderful and would he come again?  “I don’t think so,” said the teacher.

Christ entered our midst, right on schedule with our liturgical calendar, wearing a torn jacket.  His only follower was a yellow dog.  There was whiskey on his breath.  He saw quickly how the inn was full. 

We told him politely as possible that we just didn’t have much room for folks who ride boxcars and have a problem with alcohol.

Once a young student asked a rabbi how it was that no one ever saw God any more.  The rabbi responded:  “Because nowadays no one is willing to stoop so low.”

Think of the person you have most despised, whom you have found utterly repulsive, revolting.  See that person in your mind.  Recall your disgust.  Now answer this question:  Who did you think it was that needed to be loved, anyway?

For God so loved the world . . .


This post is an excerpt from a Reader’s Drama I wrote many years ago, titled Adventually – Waiting for the Messiah. It is also a true story.


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Solving Problems Elijah’s Way

Elijah and leaseI took my puppy, Elijah, for a walk to chew over something I had read by Nicolas Berdyaev. “There is something morally repulsive about modern activistic theories which deny contemplation and recognize nothing but struggle. For them, not a single moment has value in itself, but is only a means for what follows.”

Berdyaev was a Russian Christian philosopher who spent a lot of time in exile, first for criticizing the institutional church (Russian Orthodox), and then for not accepting the  Bolshevik government.

Contemplation as a “legitimate,” widely recognized means for understanding and finding resolution for the issues we face is largely denied or relegated to something one might do for a few minutes in the shower, or before drifting off to sleep. The prevailing images for our corporate approach to problems include struggle, battle, war, and exertion of power, control, or persuasion. Such approaches assume winners and losers, victories, and defeat. The struggle approach both creates and thrives on resistance.

Elijah, I am discovering, is a dog with a contemplative bent. He stops still in the middle of the quiet street, sits down, and looks at the house on our right. He looks at the roof, the yellow flag waving in the breeze, the rows of orange, magenta, white, and yellow mums. He looks at the front door with the flowered wreath. He watches a flock of starlings rise out of the oak tree and scatter across the blue sky.

I tug on the leash. “Elijah, come. Let’s go.” He, intent on his reflection, will not budge. He gazes at the windows. He tiElijah contemplatinglts his head and looks at the shrubs. He sniffs the air. “Elijah, come!” I have to write a blog, do bookkeeping, and clean off my desk. I want to cross off “take dog for walk” on my list and get on with things. He looks at me calmly, sighs, rises, and trots along.

Contemplation begins and ends with surrender, with saying I do not know the answer and with recognizing the truth that we all see truth from different perspectives – “through a glass darkly.”  It is sitting down in the middle of things and looking long and hard and sniffing the air. It is refusing to be dragged along by someone else’s agenda. Contemplation is the willingness to walk around an issue, nose, nudge it, and tilt one’s head in order to view reality deeply and truly.

Contemplation requires one to divest oneself from a particular outcome, to detach, let go and trust the Spirit working in the spaces we create by our self-emptying. Contemplation is not about being efficient and productive, nor does it promise quick resolution. Contemplation cannot be made to be a means to anybody’s end. Instead contemplation asks us to see ourselves and whatever dilemmas we face as subjects of the ends and purposes of One who is greater than we.

Pink zinniaBerdyaev makes another point about the denial of contemplation: “Not a single moment has value in itself, but only as a means for what follows.” When we seek to respond to the difficulties and problems we face from a contemplative stance we have a different perspective on time. A moment is not just the means to some greater end. A moment and all it contains has value in itself, for itself: A dog sitting in the street watching the man mow his lawn.  The gray cat sunning herself on the flowered bedspread. The hot pink zinnia licking up the light.  Such are some of the moments in this day free for the seeing and appreciating, each whole and holy in itself. Time is not given so we may accomplish our agendas, so that we can plow through the moments of our day gouging out what we figure we will need for the next moment. We are not given time in order to be ruthless strip miners of the ground of our being, carting off what we can sell or store up in barns or banks.

Elijah stops again. He gazes at the swings in the park, the slide and merry go round. He looks up at the tall pine trees with their thick drooping branches. I follow his gaze and see the branches riddled with slender yellow pods of young pine cones.

A shift occurs in us as we begin to comprehend and appreciate the infinite worth and endless wonder inherent in each moment of our existence. The pragmatic, narcissistic, restlessness which ruthlessly turns everything and everyone into a cog in its agenda of efficiency and accomplishment sits down on its haunches in the middle of everything and looks at what is so. At last it is quieted and stilled by the fullness of a larger Reality than itself.seal sunning

What riches we miss, when our heads are full of our own answers and solutions. What truth remains hidden in those unseen, unsavored moments, when the dog pauses, when the cat yawns, and when the yearning of your heart stops you in your tracks to feast on the beauty of your own precious life.

Elijah sends his love and is available for walks at the drop of a hat.

Elijah lease 2

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