Monday, February 3, 2014
It was one o’clock in the morning when I was awakened by the sound of a howling dog—and again at three-thirty.
The next morning, in a different state of consciousness, I wondered if I really was awakened by a howling dog or if it was only a bad dream.
I called my neighbor to confirm.
“Were you awakened in the night by a howling dog?”
“Yes,” my neighbor answered in an irritated tone.
Just to be sure, I called another neighbor who also heard the howling dog. Yet, none of us were sure where the howling came from; we only knew it came from below. We live on the rim of a hillside overlooking a cul-de-sac of houses referred to as the bowl.
The bowl is known for its amazing acoustics and long before our homes were built, the bowl was used as a stadium for the rodeo and other events. When I stand in my backyard, I can hear clearly the conversations of my neighbors and they can hear mine. We’ve had some fun with this over the years. On the fourth of July, a visiting tenor and member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir stood on the deck and sang the Star Spangled Banner. My daughter played her violin on spring days when windows were open. Above the bowl, I have been entertained by heated baseball games among brothers and a drum concert from a talented percussionist.
Wonderful acoustics aside, it is a pernicious environment for a howling dog in the middle of the night.
The next evening, the howling started at eight o’clock and continued in fifteen-minute intervals. I started to not only worry about my impending sleep deprivation, but I also feared for a dog that might be in distress. I decided to get in my car and drive around the neighborhood.
On my way to the garage, I decided to first check my own backyard.
My step into the chilly night air coincided perfectly with the dog’s howl. I was startled by how close it sounded. I walked down a flight of stairs and opened the gate. There it was! The howling, frightened dog was in my own backyard. Fortunately, it was beagle I recognized.
A few phone calls later and the story emerged. Charlie, the offending beagle was missing for two days. Its owner had been searching the dog pounds, shelters, and the surrounding hills. The owner’s four children had been praying every night for Charlie’s return.
I think of my irritation because someone let his dog howl through the night. Then I think of the neighbor’s below my house, who knew where the all-night howling was coming from-my house! I think of their irritation, complaints and patience. Two days worry about someone else’s problem when it was really my own.
I have a good laugh because there is little else to do. But I keep hearing my sister repeat an old adage she is quite fond of, “Clean your own backyard before you clean mine, or in Biblical prose: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in they brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Posted by pat at 9:01 AM
Sunday, February 2, 2014
"I want to be around people like myself." My sister
There's a reason why my big sister Loraine made that statement and why I too want to be around her.
After two devastating deaths, a betrayal and the normal vicissitudes of life, Loraine has become a different and better person. And hopefully by hanging out with her and accompanying her on this ride, I too have become better.
It's also why both of us understood so well the meaning of words I spoke to my class. A teacher stopped by my classroom and asked to see a certain student. He joined her in the hall but the door was left open. When the conversation started with the teacher saying, "I'm on the verge of a meltdown," every ear in the room perked up. Including mine. But I didn't want any of us to be the audience to this private exchange and I hurried over to shut the door. On my way back to my desk a student made a derogatory comment about the teacher, to which I answered without thought: "Remember, a person's suffering is sacred."
It is sacred because it is what changes us and in the in-between, our behavior may not always be pretty, but it may be the very path we must take to be a better self.
And that is why my sister wants to surround herself with people just like her--because she's learned that judgment or criticism is a burden and an evil taskmaster. And really, who wants to be a slave?
Posted by pat at 11:17 AM