We all need our spaces, our places of retreat. Is it that corner where you curl up with a favorite magazine or book? Maybe there’s an oasis in the backyard, coffee shop, or park down the way that brings a bit of renewal sometime during the week? Perhaps in a busy household a mother of small children finds solace in the bathroom behind a closed door when sitting for a spell? During a stressful transition in my life I would drive to downtown Chicago on a Sunday just to “see water” along Lake Shore Drive. Yes, those moments are precious and necessary for sure.
For those with a special love to share one’s life, the hours alone together can bring refreshment in a whole new way. Take a moment to enjoy the words of Christopher Marlowe who invites his lover to come hither to a far away place . . .
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or sleepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
The Passionate Shepherd to His LoveChristopher Marlowe
Ahhh, the delight of romance! Is there any greater pleasure in life? Well maybe yet perhaps we can agree that there are very few? 😉
During these years of serious illness, my refuge is largely our home. For now what was once our retreat for romance and the stressors of life has been transformed into a place for a different kind of healing. Indeed we have created a safe haven from noxious exposures that can make me quite ill elsewhere in the world. I have become increasingly grateful for the work I had done a few years ago to decorate our dwelling place in pleasing colors with a lovely landscape to view out each and every window. Little did I know when we were settling in here that I would spend most of the past 4 1/2 years housebound. Little did I know that right when I started to get a little better, the comfort I found at home was about to drastically change. I really don’t like it. See what you think.
Three days per week a nurse comes dressed in medical garb to administer IV infusions. Our living room morphs into a hospital outpatient clinic for nearly 3 hours with linens draped over the furniture to protect me, to protect her. Packages arrive via Fed Ex at least one morning per week with bags of drugs on ice, medical supplies, and no presents, no card from mom. The pup with the big brown eyes is sequestered in a back bedroom lest her presence or fur flying through the air risk breaking the sterile field needed to access the power port in my chest wall. She whines and yelps for a time then drifts off to slumber as the drip, drip, drip of the IV bag empties into my body. Gratefully my nurse is very skilled and unassuming. She has the perfect temperament for all this stuff too. I just wish we were out shopping instead, ya know what I mean?
I have tried very hard to pack everything up afterwards and in between home care visits. The IV pole goes behind a door in a spare bedroom and the supplies fill a couple of bins and boxes in our office. The laundry quickly goes into the washer after Michelle leaves to diminish the fragrance of her favorite laundry soap that lingers no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Her shoe covers and all the used medical supplies get tossed into our makeshift trash bin and sharps containers. Within the hour after my “visit” ends there is no trace of the intrusion that these treatments bring to our private spaces (except for the wooden sauna that rests where an entertainment center once was, that is!).
Oh well. Thereafter with a foggy fatigue and soreness above my breast (from accessing and deaccessing the port each time) I make my way to bed for a very long nap. The seizure attacks are coming down giving way to a time of rest. At least I can retreat with a little more peace to the one place that remains undisturbed!
Perhaps one day I will find an internal space that refreshes when those around me can’t quite get it done. Oh wait, yes, there it is in the shelter of the wings of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He protects me and refreshes me from the trials, the troubles all around. With Him I can face another day with renewed strength and courage. You are my resting place, my hiding place, my refuge, my shield, my home. Sigh. This is good. This is really good, thank you my Lord Jesus. With you I am truly home no matter where I am. JJ
Psalm 142:5 (NIV)
5 I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
This song came to mind with the burdens of late. “Keep moving forward,” my brother used to say. “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding . . . ” we find in Proverbs 3:5-6. And when I was a girl, it was the singing of Mother Superior in the Sound of Music that captured my spirit. She begins with the instruction that, “we have to live the life we were born to live.”
Ah yes. Now I shall praise my Lord Jesus Christ for bringing it to mind. May the wonder of my youth, the life I was born to live be rekindled in my soul. You too, Gentle Reader. You too. JJ
8:30 a.m. The big guy has finally finished praying, eating out of a tiny bowl, and remembered the fuzzy one at his feet. Yippee! It’s time for mad dashes across the yard at Top Gun speed in the cool air that I really like. The tall one thinks I really like that neon green ball but really it’s the hip massages I crave that follow when I roll onto my back at just the right moment. Roll over too soon and the scratches will barely reach my undercoat. Submit too late and he mutters something about work as our bonding time ends. HEY, I LIVE FOR THIS! What else is there in a dog’s life?
8:45 a.m. No way the dude got as tall as he is with the dry nuggets he feeds me. Better check out what’s in that little black bowl on the table when he’s in my storm shelter (aka bathroom) later. Finally it’s time to eat again, gourmet Purina Select for my allergies, but it’s chump change for a pup with discerning tastes. Oh well. I’ll see what I can charm out of the girly one when she appears after my post-breakfast nap.
9:00 a.m. I watch out the window as my buddy leaves in the bat mobile with funky racks on the roof and a grumbling noise that’s worse than me. Sigh. Who knows when the girly one will find me lying here in the laundry room. Better position myself so I can see her when she comes for me yet still defend my turf if needed. My eyes may be covered with furry lids yet I know when that beastly garbage truck, UPS invader, yellow child carrier, meter reader or anyone else threatens my territory. Time to go to work or is it sleep? They will never know!
9:30 a.m. Looks like the girly one has entered my zone here at the front of the house but she is ignoring me already. “Hi Elle” doesn’t cut it when my ears need scratching! Sometimes she gives me a teaser then goes and washes her hands in the perennial water bowl on the counter. Nice sentiment! I never brush my teeth when I lick your pants do I? Those earthlings just don’t get it. My mouth is cleaner than a baby’s bottom! Just ask G.J., the mutt that used to lick your grandmother’s feet every night. Heaven for both of them for sure.
10:00 a.m. More food smells fill my nose! Sometimes she’s eating in the unauthorized zone for me, in the back of the house somewhere and sometimes she’s out here with me in the kitchen. I like it when I am within range of the good stuff. She eats meat for breakfast and that is what I like too. I often get a fat scrap to tide me over until they almost forget to feed me in the evening. I really need to unionize or file a complaint about that one. I am on watch at this point. The girly one is up and I am a shepherd. I will protect her from anyone that drives into the courtyard that needs my scolding. Warning: “come near and I will eat you!” or at least it’s going to sound like it when you come near. That’s just the way it goes with bigger pups like yours truly.
11:00 a.m. Now where did she go? Hey, it’s still puppy play time! What about me? Sish. She’s gone back to the unknown zone in the back where I am not allowed to roam. Things get really quiet when she is back there. She’s still got that fake fur light blue coat on so maybe she is taking her own post-breakfast nap. Humans! Who can figure them out? Better believe that she will reappear if my barking is convincing enough. Hmmmmm. I could mess with her on this one a bit. And maybe I have . . . .
2 or 3 or 4:00 p.m. If she is still here and hasn’t left me stranded in my boring dog zone in the kitchen, the girly one is back. Yes! That means it’s time to go outside if I haven’t gone earlier. Sometimes she makes me wait a long time. Good thing I’m not on a potty schedule or anything. Gotta time these slurps of day-old water just right. (Not that I mind day-old water. Mud puddle, bird bath, pond scum, water dish are all the same to me!) If I am really cute maybe she will play with me a little longer or take me for a ride in the giant metal pet carrier on wheels. Well I am just going to sit here with my ball beyond the property line where she has tossed it and give her my best silhouette. It’s kind of like being obedient. She doesn’t know that it is a game with me. Who wins is the one who gets to play longer. If I come back right away after squirting the grass then she will usually toss the ball for me a couple more times. Win-win. I’m a dog and I’m not concerned about her afternoon appointments. It’s play time!
7-9:00 p.m. Rarely do I get to go anywhere in the evening unless short stuff takes me for a walk. When she grabs that black leash I am in heaven! Otherwise if they have stranded me for the day, it’s nearly dark when my peeps return with bags of stuff that rarely contains food for me. What a waste! Take me with you next time! I’ll sniff out the best deals! Oh well. At least they take me for a bathroom run again and let me run around the yard a bit before dark. The winter time is best for this when that white stuff is on the ground. I LIVE FOR SNOW! The big guy puts on his paw extensions and we go for long slides around my watering hole out back. IT’S THE BOMB! In the warmer months I get to do pretty much whatever I want while either the tall dude is pushing a buzzing snack shaver around my yard or the shorter one is digging up stuff, playing with my watering wand, or kicking me out of bunny sniffing zones. Paws are better for digging dontcha know and I have an underground condo to prove it! Alas, I love being outside. It’s where I was born and where I belong. However I’d really rather be with these oddballs without fur (except the big guy who has a wimpy version compared to me) so I go in when I am called. It’s my duty as their pup!
10:00 p.m. My masters sit and eat in front of me and never feed me from the table. What a rip off! It’s not like I can’t smell it you know! Later when they remember that I am hungry too (I am not just being cute: I am trying to tell you something!), they dump some more MRE rations in my bowl. Hey throwing it on the floor would be more fun really. Whatever. When the girly one gives me some skin, as in chicken skin, I am in heaven. This when I know I am truly alive. Then they wrestle with me and I pretend to chew on their paws. Yeah, they really love me. Even if they cut back on the tartar control mix they call dinner, to keep me a lean, mean, fighting machine — I don’t mind. The rabbits get a better run when I have a waist don’t you know?
11:00 p.m. At last. More dog time with my master. Oh the girly one thinks she has my heart cause she pets me when we are home alone or up late at night. Yeah but it’s the big dude that sets me straight and that is cool with me. I get a little wild sometimes in my canine heart that wants to run freeeeeeeee! His discipline is firm. This is how I know he loves me and wants to protect me as much as I want to protect him. I don’t really want to get squashed in the street you know as I chase the kids on their bikes. Maybe it looks like I don’t know what I am doing? That is not the case. I am a smart German shepherd and I am always on alert don’t you know. Just watch me sitting at the edge of the yard sometimes, placing my furry tush between them and any potentially offending intruder. One false move and I will let them know who is boss. Well, at least my bark will say that I am da boss!
Wee hours of the a.m. This is a strange time in my den. The girly one has been up with me until nearly daylight for the past 2 years. Sometimes I hear her crying in distress and it breaks my puppy heart. I am worried about her and I know she sees it in my face. The look is good for a scratch behind the ears too. “Puppy therapy” she calls it when I see her a little later. Whew! I sigh with relief that she’s o.k. I don’t know how she does it every night. Maybe she will get better and sleep more like me. I think it’s starting to happen but I can’t be sure. It’s a dog’s life and I live in the moment. Besides, dozing, sleeping, listening with my eyes closed is a full-time job you know. She used to do stuff outside our den most days of the week. Oh well. For now she’s here with me, most days and every night and I love her. The big guy is pretty cool too. He is rough with me and I like it. Such a nice blend. They make a great couple. Oh well. What do I know?