From the Pastor

A message from Pastor Mike:

A neighbor was walking through our back yard calling out the name of his errant beagle, “Sadie! Come!” Sadie, however, was nowhere in sight.

He explained that they had been out walking, that she was off leash because she was usually very good and he had clicker that she responded to.  Not this time.  This time she chased after a young deer, a yearling, into the woods.

After about an hour of searching and calling, he resigned himself to heading back home and waiting for her return.

Right when he sat down in the lawn chair to wait, Sadie came bolting out of the woods, tail wagging and leaping around the back yard.  Then the yearling came out of the woods and stood there.  The dog barked at the deer and then both dove back through the thicket and were off running again.

They came out of the woods on the other side of our yard and back and forth along the fenced area of the neighbor’s patio, taunting the 2 dogs inside the enclosure.  The deer and the beagle ran a few laps across our yard and the neighbor’s and then headed back into the woods.  They alternated who was chasing who.

The duo made their way through the woods around the backyards of the neighborhood and we saw them come out and run through the yard across the street and into the next block.  My neighbor got in his truck once more and started searching again.

The beagle and the yearling were, and this is a word we do not use enough anymore, frolicking.

They were frolicking.

That is such a joyful word.  It speaks of an innocence, before prejudices and fears take over young hearts and distort our community and world.

Gamboling sounds too dignified, too organized, like something students at a boarding school might have to schedule.

Frolicking is a, “Who cares what others think” kind of word, carefree and spontaneous.

It speaks of summer, it has a joyful, lilting sound to it.  Just saying it takes us back to innocent, childlike times before self-consciousness is ground into us, of dancing in the rain, splashing in puddles, using our bodies to make oddly shaped shadows on a sunny day, unabashedly playing secret agent games—darting out of bushes, screened in porches and lurking under the cover of a weeping willow.

Yes, “frolic” is about the best summer word there is, I think.

God bless the creatures that remind us what it is to have a frolicking good summer without judgment or fear of the “other.”

There are wonderful videos on the internet of dogs nursing orphaned fawns, mother cats looking after puppies and an elephant and a dog who are best friends https://youtu.be/cBtFTF2ii7U.

At the end of that last video, CBS reporter Steve Hartman asks, “Just two living creatures who have somehow managed to look past their immense differences.  Take a good look America.  Take a good look world.  If they can do it, what is our excuse?”

Perhaps someday, perhaps soon, an older deer will teach the yearling in our neighborhood to avoid dogs, they are descended from wolves, after all.  The instinct to fear serves an evolutionary benefit, even as it isolates us, one from another.

And Sadie may see a large buck as a bit threatening to a small dog.

For now, though, let the beagle and the yearling frolic in the woods.  It is not quite the “lion shall lie down with the lamb” new creation sort of joy but it is a glimpse of that new creation and a seed of that joy.

May your summer be filled with such glimpses, reminders of God’s promises and of the reconciliation of all creation to God the Creator through Christ.

And why not get a few friends together and play a game of Tag or Hide ‘n Seek?  Put on a cape and pretend you are a superhero—at least from July 24-27. If the neighbors laugh, you will know that God is smiling.

Have a frolicking good summer!

Pastor Mike