Good Things Can Be Scary

Sometimes I forget that really good things can be scary to those who have even a slightly different perspective.

I had been wakened repeatedly through the night by mostly distant rumblings of thunder and meager flashes of lightning. In the middle of a drought, these sights and sounds have a way of  settling me and bringing that special feeling of hope. As I turned over, I was eased back into sleep by the reassuring sound of raindrops gently hitting the roof and the windows. Although the sensation was imperceptible, I could imagine hearing the much needed water soaking into parched ground. Without looking, I could see the runoff coursing down street gutters to the local creeks and, eventually, into the lakes that hold this precious resource for life.

Togo, our husky-wolf mix dog, has a contrasting viewpoint.

Last night, as the storms began to build thirty miles to our west, he became fidgety. By 5:00 p.m., his customary dinner time, he was tucked into his doggy igloo. Anxiously peering out, he refused to emerge. So, I went through the feeding ritual alone, retrieving his bone marrow retreat, scooping kibble into his dish, squeezing a capsule of fish oil into the mix.

Walking around to the front of his house, I tried to hand him the treat. Looking past me to the skies, he ignored it. I placed it just inside his door and then showed him his dog dish, supper prepared just like he likes it. Still no response. The dish went in its customary spot next to the igloo and protected from the elements by Togo’s over-sized travel crate. Togo stood inside, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

As I turned to go inside, I saw him look right at me and immediately sit down. Of course! I’d almost forgotten. This was the moment for prayer.

I knelt next to the igloo, reached in and put my hands on Togo’s shoulders. We went down the list of things that Togo is thankful for. Noting his anxious expression, I added a blessing of comfort and peace for his stormy night ahead.

As I shut the back door, his face was framed in his doorway. Even though there was no storm and no rain yet, he looked expectantly toward the heavens.

This morning at breakfast it was raining. When I stepped outside, he stayed in his house. Like last night, he remained in the igloo. There wasn’t much to do for breakfast — apparently he had never left his house and his dinner was untouched. I went to the cabinet, retrieved another treat, and left it between his paws. The expression on his face was priceless and I went inside for my camera.

I grabbed a couple of special treats as I went back outside. That seemed to energize him. As I was trying to get a picture of him hunkered down in his safe place, he emerged. Halfway. And he stood looking around his backyard, bewildered by all the water. Remembering the lightning and thunder. He shivered just a bit.

I don’t profess to know what goes in Togo’s head. But I supposed that no matter how hard I try to explain to him how welcome this rain is and how grateful we all need to be, he will continue to have a fear that can only be removed through experience. I am saddened just a bit knowing that he may not ever have enough good times with rain in West Texas to ever come to this place of celebrating this very good thing.

We’re all a little like Togo. New things happen — good things. Yet, they are so far out of our normal experience that they provoke anxiety and fear. At times like those, it’s nice to have someone come and sit beside us — and perhaps offer up a little prayer of thanks and comfort.

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