Saint and Angels

At the time little did I expect a slight deviation from my usual route home would have me wrestling with a Saint and hitching a ride with two angels!

The distant horizon sizzles with hues of orange and yellow as the sun burns down for the day. My five-dollar sunglasses do nothing to relieve the discomfort so I resort to looking through the slits of my lowered eyelids. Further on, I vaguely make out a four-legged animal crisscrossing the road. As the distance diminishes, I see a large St. Bernard dog. Oblivious to the angry honks and near misses of passing cars, the Saint seems to have a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder. I decide that taking the Saint out of harm’s way will be worth the slight interruption to my commute home.

I pull onto the gravel shoulder. Half my car still protrudes into the lane of traffic. In the dwindling light, the glow of my car’s yellow hazard lights provides intermittent protection as other cars zip by.

His nose hovering just a fraction of an inch above the earth inhaling the sweet essence of virgin ground. The Saint doesn’t even notice me. I pat my hands on both knees and, in a high pitched, soft mothering tone, I call out, “Come here boy! Come here! Aren’t you a handsome fellow.” Not even a glimpse my way. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was no match for the sights and smells of the impending adventure of unfettered canine freedom. Hmm. What to do? I return to my car and take the ten-minute old sub out and, like magic, I have the Saint’s attention!

The Saint lumbers over to me. Grabbing his collar is the easy part, reading his tag proved to be as infuriating as the buzz of a mosquito when you’re trying to fall asleep. A phone number is printed on the tab. Sub devoured, he wants to go where he wants to go. There’s my dog, Wally’s, leash. With a Houdini like maneuver, I manage to get the leash snapped onto his collar. I take out my phone and call the vet. The secretary has no luck contacting the owner so she gives me the Saint’s home address. I decide the easiest option is to simply take him home.

After several long minutes of trying to coerce the stubborn Saint into the back of my car, it’s obvious he’s doesn’t want to get in a vehicle, much less ride in one. OK, I say under my breath. I’ll just walk you home. By my best guesstimate, I figure his rural route address is East of our present location.

After a few steps I realize our fate is sealed. The adventure begins. His familiarity of being lead on leash is even less than that of his time riding in a vehicle. He proceeds to drag me in and out of the ditch at will. I get soaked on the first ditch detour but I’m not letting go. Stiff dry weed stalks are cutting my arms. At points he lies down and refuses to move. After catching his breath he’s off and running. I brace myself against mailboxes to hold us back from heading into traffic. I am as determined to hang on as he is to make me let go! My breath is heavy and hot, the salty taste of sweat on my lips. We tangle and untangle in the cord tethering us together like a choreographed dance between capture and escape.

Finally, as the glow of the sun’s dying embers burns out I find his house. My guesstimate was terribly wrong. After heading ¼ East we had to double back and go another ¼ West. Of course nobody is home so I confine him to the garage. Satisfied my punishing ordeal is over, I give myself a once over. Mud covers my numb arms and the constant jerking motion has given me a sore shoulder. Beneath the cool mud balm the sting of tiny cuts and scrapes works its way through the dried blood.

I am a hot mess. I mean that literally not figuratively. As I shake my head in disbelieve, a giggle wiggles its way out of my belly. The giggle quickly turns to hysterical laughter. I tuck knotted strands of hair riddled with weeds behind my ear. As I struggle to regain my composure, far in the distance, I see the faint pulsing glow of yellow hazard lights. The good laugh seems to have cured all my wounds, seen and unseen. Satisfied my Saintly mission is accomplished, I head out carrying its good medicine in my memory—laughter.

Exhaustion is setting in and each step is heavy and slow.  The smile still stretched across my face, I ask my guardian angels for protection and strength as I walk down the silent country road. The gleam of headlights gone. With a chuckle, I say out loud. I guess you never know where a good deed will lead… you…Angie.

Then out of nowhere, a car appears! The arm of its passenger frantically waving me over. I can’t believe it! Two wonderful women offer me a ride back to my car. As we drive, I recount the St. Bernard story to rousing laughter. Laughter has a way of  lifting the weight of our humanness off our spirits. As we depart I had an amusing thought. Not all Saints are angels and not all angels have wings.

“Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.” ~Charles de Lint



Heaven’s Home

Our bodies houses of God adorned and worshiped.

Behind walls of flesh lies the heart of heaven’s home.

Pure love like nature’s nakedness feels beauty.

Let love live inside.

Go to the soul’s open window.

See what the heart feels.

Of all loves, the greatest is of self.

Beauty is created within the “I” of the beholder.

Unknown Territory

Here in Northeast Wisconsin, warmer weather is arriving painfully slow. Spring makes an appearance then disappears, taking her green magic with her. This time of year we experience what I call Old Man Winter’s dark white. The extended transition time weighs heavy on the spirit of many folks. As each dark white day passes, the anticipation of spring  grows green in our hearts. We know spring will come but we worry about how long it’s taking to get here. It’s precisely this “knowing” that stirs up the crazy in people.

I watched a pair of robin’s, hopping through the snow, stopping occasionally on a grassy patch to cock their heads sideways and listen for worms. Later, they were bouncing through the branches of our crab apple tree gobbling down shriveled up fruit from last season. They don’t “know” when or where their next meal will come from, yet they survive on the unknown, living life in complete acceptance of what is.

Weather, a master at teaching non-judgment and surrender, gives us daily lessons on how to release control and follow the flow. The robin’s made it look easy. Following the flow is all about the awareness of whether you are flailing or floating through this fleeting moment.  To arrive at this place of complete surrender, give up the narrow mindedness of knowing and widen your mindfulness of the unknown—explore the great unknowns.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”~ Mark Twain

Put Your Lips Together and Blow

You don’t hear much whistling anymore. Dad whistled his song of life, a gift that unbeknownst to him brought happiness to many over his lifetime. There is playfulness to a sound made through puckered lips, the air tongue-tickled as the breath’s bellows pump, making music on the inhale and exhale, the breath of life’s soul music.

His favorite tune was merry and light, the chorus at the forefront of my memory. I don’t think a day went by that I didn’t hear that tune when I worked alongside him. He loved to whistle during milking time on our dairy farm. The melody danced between the clang of cow chains against iron stalls and through the persistent chug of the vacuum pump. The sound relaxed and eased the cattle. When we worked outside the sound of his whistle was clear and free, traveling far to spread the cheer of his spirit. For some reason even the faint sound of his whistle drew your attention. It had a way of calling you home—calling your heart. At Dad’s funeral, I became aware of the distance his whistle traveled into the hearts of our neighbors, far and near, and how missed it was going to be.

I have memory moments when I expect to hear his whistle. As if I could will it to travel through the dimensions of space and time. My ear searching for the sound only my heart can now hear. Every now-and-again, usually when I’m working on a problem alone, I start to whistle Dad’s song and I am called home. I’m called to listen to my heart and the answer comes.

Dad passed in spring, when the spirit of a new season is ushered in with the songbird’s whistle and the nightly chorus of Peepers, those tiny frogs with the loud chirp, echoing over fields of hope and promise. He left at a time when everything held a song in their heart. Dad had a simple pure-noted purpose in his lifetime. He was a fixer— he worked at fixing life—for his family, friends and neighbors, the earth, his animals and crops. His life was alive with the sound of his own music. What a gift to give yourself. Whistling kept him in tune with his heart, his life a living song.

I can whistle, not as well as Dad, but it’s not stopping me from living to the beat of my own heart like Dad and occasionally I put my lips together and blow.

In memory of Edward Galkowski, Sr.

%d bloggers like this: