Collie

Collie: (n) a sheepdog of a breed originating in Scotland

I was eleven years old before I realized they were not supposed to stink.

I’m talking about dogs.

Up to that point, I knew one dog–and this dog stunk. Ironically, her name was “Queenie.” Any pomp and circumstance associated with that name were purely accidental. She stunk. I could tell very time I drew near.

And near I drew.

Queenie was my Grandpa George’s animal. She was his favorite beast, person and thing.

Queenie felt great security in her job, and so pursued no personal hygiene. Half the day she wandered through the woods, living the life of a wild dog, to come
home to the little A-frame house as night was falling, to spend time with my grandpa.

I had jobs to do with Queenie. I kept praying that my grandpa would get old enough that he would become forgetful, and therefore fail to remember to ask me to do the job.

It was a two-parter.

Because Queenie was a collie, she had long fur which might have been lovely had it not been matted with dirt and grime, and filled with little stickers (which my grandpa referred to as “nettles”).

Grandpa wanted me to sit there during the visit, with Queenie’s snout lying in my lap, stinking up the room, and remove these little thistles from her fur. That was the first part.

The second part was that Queenie was a wild-type dog, and did not know how to get all the poop out of her butt with each bowel movement. So dangling from her backside were little sprinkles of dried turds, which Grandpa allowed me to remove by snipping them off with a small pair of scissors.

I will give Queenie one kudo: she never objected to any of the processes. Matter of fact, it reached a point that whenever I came into the room, she came over and laid her head on my knee, awaiting the treatment.

She smelled like everything bad that no one should ever inhale.

Her nettles always yanked out little pieces of hair, and the clippings from the back end–well, fortunately, time has healed me of the vision (as long as I don’t talk about it).

That is my experience with a collie. So you can see why, under no circumstances whatsoever, could I enjoy watching “Lassie.”

 

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Claw

Claw: (n) a horny nail on the foot of a beast

“Claw your way to the top.”

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

Matter of fact, if you enter the intense dialogue of a business meeting or the fevered pitch of a pre-game sermon, you might just hear that
statement presented as the best way to achieve victory.

Animals have claws.

And when we continue to portray ourselves as animalistic, we lose all the anointing of having just a teaspoon of the Divine sprinkled into our souls.

We don ‘t have claws. We have hands.

And the advantage of having a hand is that it comes with fingers which have the sensitivity of merciful touch.

We don’t have to hurt people to affect them.

We don’t have to rip into their flesh to garner their attention.

We don’t have to clasp them and violently carry them away to do our will.

We have fingers with fingertips, and the ability to reach out, caress and communicate the tenderness that’s in our minds.

Be careful with those who like to keep us in the jungle instead of allowing us the honor of using our hands and fingers to till a garden.

We are human. We don’t need to claw our way to the top.

We can gently feel our way.

 

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Chalice

Chalice: (n) a large cup or goblet

Every once in a while, I fancy myself a flitting twit of noble extraction who was accidentally birthed in Central Ohio due to a curse of a witch
with an axe to grind.

This doesn’t happen very often or my communiques would be coming from a sanitarium.

But there is a nasty part of my soul that wants to be superior.

I want to be a king instead of a serf.

I want to drink out of a chalice instead of a cup.

I want to have whole cooked birds placed in front of me so I can peruse where to dive in to the crunchy brown skin and begin to gorge myself.

I want to have the fanciest car in the parking lot.

I want to have an outfit that someone recognizes as an “original” from Italy.

I want to be viewed as a “cut above”–the rib-eye, soft and moist, near the heart of the beast.

I desire that the focus be placed upon me and all spotlights trained in my direction.

I find myself in a twist of obnoxious pretense, grabbing my chalice, bedecked with jewels, and sipping wine that was pressed only by the feet of virgin maidens.

I want to be special.

I want to be revered.

I want my glorious chalice of appreciation.

And then…

My friend walks in the door and tells me I have my shirt on backwards.

I realize God has placed me where I need be.

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Ambience

dictionary with letter A

Ambience: (n) the character and atmosphere of a place

I guess some vibes are normal.

For instance, at a funeral home, there is usually organ music, the sickening smell of flowers and people whispering tearful regrets.

At a rock concert, there’s screaming, with people pumping their fists, patting each other on the back and yelling lyrics at a stage which is too far away to hear.

In Washington, D.C., ladies and gentlemen dress up in their parents’ clothes and follow the rules of a Parliament they fought an eight-year war to escape.

And in church … well, sometimes it’s a somber climate with worshipful silence, and in other places, it’s tambourines, drums and modern interpretations of songs written by shepherd boys on a lute.

How important is ambience?

If I walk into a restaurant and the waiters are wearing tuxedos, the food is not necessarily going to be better–just expensive.

I think the aura or overall feeling that best exemplifies our country, though, is a beach on a Saturday afternoon at about 2:30. It is the oddest collage of beauty, beast, coolers, umbrellas, tanning lotion, tossed balls, screaming children, strutting studs and prancing babes.

It is America:  we boldly worship the sun while knowing that it’s slowly killing us with skin cancer, convinced that we have every right to occupy the available space on the sand, which is the width and length of our blanket and also, completely and arrogantly confident that we are just as good as the next bathing suit nearby.

Ambience is a tricky thing.

It’s used to telegraph propriety in a world that no longer knows what a telegraph is.

It’s a bit old-fashioned, it’s a bit presumptuous, and it certainly is often misleading.

Yet each one of us does generate an individual glow around us, which is either inviting or repelling.

And determining what that beam of self turns out to be … will decide our happiness.