The pain was instantaneous. I was daydreaming, as usual; walking along delivering my papers as I did every week and hadn’t really been paying attention to the landscape. We were supposed to walk up the drive to each house to place the paper on the door, returning to the street and up to the next house, but that was way too time consuming and involved almost twice as many steps as cutting across every lawn on the block. As I meandered past the stand of oleander bushes in this particular yard, I was completely unprepared for the bared fangs that ripped into my calf, tearing my best blue jeans in the process. The medium-sized dog seemed as surprised as I, turning tail and running around the house as fast as he could when I spun to face him.
I yelled. The folks in the house were out on the stoop in a moment, wanting to know what had inspired the ruckus. By this time, I was in control of my faculties again and told them calmly that their vicious dog had mounted a surprise attack on me. The blood was flowing freely and the ripped jeans were easy to see. They quickly took me inside and helped to get the laceration cleaned up, bandaging it as well as they could. The worried family insisted that I stay and wait for my folks to take me to the doctor, but time was a’wasting and I had a route to finish. You may think that noble, but it was just that I knew I wouldn’t get paid if the papers didn’t get delivered. Thus is was that, mere moments after being bitten by what was quickly growing in my mind to be a huge animal, I was limping my way down the road again. I didn’t get far, because the worried folks called the newspaper, which in turn, called my folks and they picked me up within a few moments anyway. So, all I got for my trouble was a scar on the back of my leg (and patched jeans) and a short paycheck for the week.
The next Tuesday, I was on my route again, almost as if nothing had happened. Amazing how we heal up when we’re young! What hadn’t healed was my fear of that monster dog. As I approached the house, I began to watch for him, checking the bushes and even spying out the neighbor’s yards as I neared the fateful spot of my injury. No dog. I did hear a voice call out from the front steps of the house, though. “He’s here, Mom!” Oh no, I was going to be in trouble for cutting across the yard and surprising their sleeping dog, an error I was not repeating on this day. But, that wasn’t it at all. The lady of the house came out of the front door with a small, placid-looking canine on a leash, calling for me to come over to the porch. I complied and she explained. Knowing that I had had a traumatic experience there the week before, she thought it necessary that I get acquainted with my attacker, so we could avoid a repeat performance. As I approached cautiously, the happy little creature lifted his head, sniffing of my hand and licking it. I knelt down and patted him on the head and he responded by burrowing in close to me and begging for more of my attention.
We were good friends for the rest of the time I walked that route. What could have been a continuous sense of fear or dread every single time I approached that neighborhood, turned into a joy and the anticipation of spending a moment or two with a great little dog each week. All because we got the issues taken care of quickly and without giving time for fear and dread to do its work.
My good friend, Dave brought my bicycle back to me today. My recent accident had done a little damage and I wanted to get it back into shape. Dave loves to fix bikes and had a real knack for it, so he was the logical choice to make things right again. After a few moment’s conversation, he left the bike in front of the music store as he departed. I decided to put it away a few moments later. I have never been afraid to lift my leg over the bar of a bicycle in my life. This time as I began to swing my leg over, one of the more persistent injuries in my right thigh reminded me momentarily of the trauma my last ride had inflicted. I walked the bike around to the storage building and pushed it inside. I think there was a little cold sweat on my brow as I locked the door. Maybe in a day or two, I’ll see if I can get reacquainted with the vicious machine.
As I remembered the story of the dog biting me when I was a kid, all kinds of other illustrations came to me. There are so many applications to be made. I think I’ll let you make your own connections this time.
I need a little time to learn the lesson anew for myself. I’m hopeful that it won’t be long before I’m back in the saddle again. I’ll let you know.
“There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode; never was a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed.”
(American cowboy wisdom~attributed to Will James~cowboy author~1892-1942)
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.”
(I Timothy 1:7 NIV)