After my early morning walk last Thursday as I arrived back at the house I could hear the dog barking and was unsure whether it was one of ours. I walked up the driveway and on to the walk approaching our front door and began fumbling for my key. The barking became louder and more incessant. I thought, good dogs, they are good watch dogs and alarms for our home.
I had wondered a bit at the barking but I know the “boys” have a tendency to jump up on the couch to see out the front window so I figured that was the case and I would have to get after them for being on the furniture. I retrieved my key and proceeded to move toward the front door when I saw him.
Our front window has a deep windowsill and usually one or both of the cats lay there in the sun during the day. We have a small quilt lying on the sill to make it a kind of bed for the two sun worshipers in our home. But today, as I looked at the barking dog in the window, there sat Mozart, all seventy pounds of him, in the windowsill barking his heart out at the “intruder” coming toward the front door! “Really Moz, in the windowsill? Do you think you’re a cat!?” I unlocked the door and stepped inside to two very excited, tail-wagging dogs waiting to be praised for their house protecting skills. Well, praise is not necessarily what Moz received.
It is a bit of a two edged sword I suppose. There is something to be said about Moz’s commitment to protecting the territory from those who might wander up to our home, especially when we are not home. There is also the aspect of keeping appropriate boundaries and knowing where one is allowed to be and where one is not.
Life and the work of the church and the faithful are filled with those discerning moments as well. There are days and situations when stepping across the established “lines” is necessary in the defense of justice for all. Unjust laws, rules, dogmas, doctrines need to be challenged in faithful and nonviolent ways. Knowing where to stand, how to stand, when to stand and speak is a discerning process that can make the difference between fiasco and an effective witness for social change and justice.
I know here at College Hill we live in that tension on a daily basis, committed to challenging injustice while living within the bounds of our faith and identity being Bold, Wise, and Graceful. It can be a difficult balance to live, but I continue to believe we will persevere and love will win the final cause and all will be welcome in a world filled with welcome and justice.
Living in this tension I am often reminded of words from John F. Kennedy when he wrote, “Words alone are not enough… Where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.”
I will continue be appreciative of Moz’s willingness to do what needs to be done to be a good guard dog and I will continue to help him know the best way to do that within the boundaries we set for him.
May we continue to be Bold in the Ways of Justice, Wise in the Way of the Spirit, and Graceful in Relation to All Creation. May we continue to stand and speak words of conviction and justice, knowing and trusting the most effective ways to bring about Love for all. Where all means all.
It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.
Peace and Light on Your Journey,