It is almost three o’clock on what has been a very cold day. When Dale was walking our dog Molly just a short time ago, it was windy, and there were snowflakes in the air. Spring is just around the corner, but it is not here with warmth this day.
The cold air came into New Hampshire around five o’clock yesterday. It came in a vengeance. The sky turned gray and then almost black. The pine trees behind our house began to whisper and then to cry out. Those pines stand on a sandy bank behind our home, and they are rather threatening when a storm comes in from the west. Dale was at Franklin Pierce University at aSchool of Education Recognition Ceremony. Molly and I were home alone. We learned when Dale returned home that the storm, we had experienced here in Hopkinton had come earlier to Rindge, New Hampshire. She told us it was very frightening as their celebration was held in a tent with steel poles.
Several years ago, Dale and I experienced a similar storm at a wedding in Middlebury, Vermont. It was at the marriage service of Jessica Blake and Jamie Scola. Their wedding took place on the side of a hill overlooking the beautiful Vermont countryside. The dawn that day was cloudless and sunny. The State of Vermont had previously experienced many rainy days and the earth and grass was soggy underfoot. As the wedding began, the sun was still shining. However, in the distance, you could see gray and then black clouds approaching. By the time the wedding ceremony was over, and the guests had moved into a tent, the storm broke. The rain turned into a deluge. Water began to seep into the ground on which the tent had been anchored, and the soggy earth turned to puddles. The lightening flashed, the thunder roared, and we were told not to stand near the metal poles. Now Jess and Jamie were outdoor people; they loved the Vermont environment, so they just removed their shoes and went barefoot. Their love for each other was seen by their smiles and joy in spite of the stormy weather. To me, it was to me rather a symbol of their future that no matter the storm of life they would “weather”, it would be together. Dale and I were blessed to have been a part of their lives then and now. (This last Christmastime we received a gumdrop tree and the gumdrops to place on it as a recognition of their past Christmas celebrations.)
As a child, I was desperately afraid of thunder and lightning storms at night. My bedroom was on the third floor of our home in Melrose, so you were closer to the storm. My bed was just under the slant of the roof. When I saw and heard a storm approaching, I wanted out of that room even though my older brothers teased me. I would head to my mother and father’s room for comfort and solace. I had to pass by a window on the staircase, and that would be the very spot when there would come a flash and an immediate explosion of thunder. I do not think my feet felt the last stairs beneath them. I always noticed that when that loud explosion occurred, my brothers joined us in my mom and dad’s bedroom. All this came back yesterday when Molly and I were alone. You see, our dog Molly is terribly frightened by thunder.
When Molly heard the first rumble, I could see she was anxious. She began to put her tail down and began to wander room to room. It appeared she could not decide where she would be safe. Her usual place of refuge is under the knee hole of my desk. I tried to coach her under there – she just continued to pace back and forth. She went from my study to the living room and dining room, and then she went into the kitchen and into our entry, the welcome room. I followed her with my eyes, and then she looked up the staircase leading to Dale’s and my bedroom. That is where she finds us at night during a storm. Then I took matters into my hands. I gently led my trembling Molly into our downstairs bedroom. The bed in that room is close to aprotective corner, and there was just enough space for Molly to sit on the floor and for me to half lie on the bed. She sat as close to me as she could, and I began to speak to her gently and to pat and stroke her constantly. She sat there for ten minutes, then fifteen minutes when something occurred that gave both of us courage. My heart was aching for my shaking Molly.
Dale had left me instructions to feed Molly at five-thirty. So that I would remember I set the alarm on my phone for that time. That phone technology is just wonderful- alarm clock, phone, music, flashlight and so much more. The storm was battering our home when the alarm went off. My alarm is a hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.” The music shut out the storm. Molly quieted, and my heart was comforted for she was less anxious. I called Dale, who was on her way home, and she reminded me that in other storms we had put a small quilt around Molly. Dale asked, “Isn’t there a sweater on the bed?” I did not wish to leave Molly. There was a sweater – Dale, as most wives, was aware of where my sweater was and not supposed to be – on the bed not in a drawer where it belonged. I gently put the sweater around Molly, and we listened to hymns on my phone until Dale returned home.
My heart was aching for our frightened, beloved dog. She is always so loving and caring of us. Yes, in our home, she is like a child. I did not understand that for all our other dogs were really our children’s dogs. Molly is our constant happy, welcoming, loving, faithful friend.
We bring Molly to daycare for exercise twice a week. She has a very kind caretaker there. He told me what Roy Rogers once said, “If dogs don’t go to heaven, I want to go where they go!” We humans have to be good, for if we are kind and good and we get to eternity, it could not be happy without our pets. So you and I better live lives of love and kindness so our pets can always be with us.
As I comforted Molly with my hugging her and patting her, listening to music with her, and cuddling her, making her secure in my sweater and being present with her, I thought God is like that. We are made in His image – so when we humans are frightened, He desires to comfort us with His love. When we are sorrowful or anxious and faced with overwhelming times, God wraps His arms around us, sings His melodies to us, holds us safe and comforted until our hearts and souls are at peace. In that thunder and lightning storm yesterday, God was with Molly and with me just as He will be with us forever and ever. Praise God!
This pastor apologizes for not walking with you sooner. When others said in retirement you are busy that is only partly true,you also find you have to be at rest more often. In spite of not hearing from me, all of you that Dale and I have known, like Jess and Jamie, are not forgotten.
Please let me know in comments how you are. With love for you. I repeat that benediction that has been a part of my ministry: “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”