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Our dog had an unfortunate run-in with some firecrackers last year while we were out for her evening walk. That meant that this year’s Fourth of July season was pretty rough. I say Fourth of July season because ever since we’ve been allowed to buy and shoot off fireworks in Michigan things have, in my opinion, gotten a little crazy. We can easily have 4 hours of non-stop fireworks during the nights leading up to the 4th, and even more noise on the actual holiday.
Earlier this summer, we further traumatized our dog by mistakenly having her outside on Memorial Day when an assortment of bomb-like crackers were released across the street — in the middle of the day! I hadn’t even begun to consider getting ready for fireworks season and those blasts nearly scared the pants off me, I was so taken by surprise. I could feel the vibration in the ground beneath our patio swing, behind which our dog usually lays in the shade. I’ve long heard how traumatic the Fourth of July can be for veterans, pets, and children. Now I’ve begun to witness it up close, in-person.
Despite what you may think, this is not a post condemning the use of fireworks. I’m not poking at patriotism. I’m not even going to talk about being good neighbors. Rather, I keep thinking about my poor, confused dog and her skittish, fearful behavior in response to the clamorous start to the month of July. I mean, really, there is little we can do to prepare her for the booming of the crackers. There is less we can do to explain it to her. And, while we do our best to comfort her and help her feel safe, from now on our dog will probably always quake in fear, run, and hide, and look absolutely distraught and confused by any and all large, booming noises.
This has me thinking about my own life, and about yours, and more specifically, about the things that go bang in the night. Or, if you live in my neighborhood, I suppose I mean the things that go bang any old time of day and nearly scare the pants off you. Life is pretty fine and jolly until something comes along to shock you sideways. And, like my unfortunate fluffy friend has found, something scary and awful can come along just about any time at all. Life is unpredictable.
Yes. Life is unpredictable. But, we don’t live as though something is going to jump out and scare us. I’d like to believe, in fact, that we live pretty contentedly. Even when life is fast-paced, brimming full with events and actives, and when the holidays or simply the workload keeps us up past bedtime we are largely at ease in our life. I believe that in the best of times, humanity doesn’t quake and tremble through life worried about turning the corner or fearing something unknown that may be lurking in the dark. Instead we amble along through our days, and sometimes we even race, never expecting a big, bright banging explosion.
It is kind of shocking, actually, that so many of us can be so often at ease, but I am grateful. High anxiety is no way to live. Fear and trembling is not what I’m angling after. Because we are designed to live with a steady kind of balance and trust, if and when something pops in the dark or bursts too sonorously in the daylight shaking the ground beneath us, we are taken by surprise each and every time.
I’m not saying, “Watch out!” Neither am I advocating a lifestyle of worry. I’m saying I’m glad. I am grateful. I am relieved that you and I can both live trustfully in balance, and have a place of refuge and a safe embrace to turn to when things explode. When we least expect the scary health diagnosis, or a shattered relationship, or financial implosion we — like my dog — can lean upon the savior in our quaking.
I often think of my dog’s simple life as faithful and mundane as she goes about her daily routines and patterns, most of which involve following us around hoping we will pet her. She is content and largely at ease in her daily living; as are we. When our routines are disrupted by some shock or another, and those shocks will come, we have just the same kind of loving shepherd to turn to in our distress.
This summer I see us all trying to remember just exactly how we have always managed to live life at ease. We recall that this is the time of lemonade and hammocks and gently blinking lightning bugs out across the lawn. This, we know, is when we can usually breathe a deep sigh of relief and lean back into the comfort of a vacation. In some ways it seems that this summer we are coming back from a shock; a big, booming explosion. We’re working to remember how not to be so often afraid. We are recalling what people’s smiles look like without a protective mask. We are testing the waters of life once again, and we are longing to call it good.
Here’s a high five to mundane, faithful living especially in an emerging post-pandemic season. And, won’t you join your heart with mine in saying thanks to our good God who brings us faithfully through it all.