Monday, March 26, 2007


Oh. My. God. Ten more weeks. I cannot believe it is so soon--when I started this adventure of seminary, the last quarter seemed so far away, and now it is upon me. Now, I've got to find work!!!! Have contacted a place where I did a training assignment, and I don't know if anything will come of that, b/c they have written the qualifications for their open position to require two units of CPE and I have only one. Feh. But in any case, they remembered me with happiness and that alone redeemed what had been a very bad day. I wish I were not so vulnerable as to need encouragement, but I suppose everyone does, at this point.

Got on the bicycle this morning and rode, just a few miles, just enough to get hot and sweaty and tired--first ride of the spring, and it felt good. The legs usually tone up pretty quickly, so before long I'll be able to ride gratifying distances. I hope. The little old dogs, despite being little, and old, and each having things wrong with them, can now walk a mile and then come home and play, so exercise is available.

In the midst of one learning goal: preaching three sermons in a row. Actually, past the middle. I have done two, one is left. I could get used to this. Once I've done the research and reading, I have this very weird way of going about sermon prep--sometimes it is absolutely clear to me that I have to write the thing out and memorize, other times it is clear to me that I cannot use that tool, have to have it more "in my mind." Not consistent, and what has been hard is to allow the inconsistency and not force a "method" of prep. Many of my congregation are from more Pentecostal backgrounds where the experience of Spirit working in life is familiar and also prized, and I suspect they would tell me to listen to the Spirit and her guidance as much as possible.

A very well-known speaker from my denomination came to seminary and gave a sermon at weekly worship. Reactions were very wide. Some felt the message was the most liberating thing they had ever heard, that it provided new life and hope to them on their own journeys. Others, including a professor I very much respect, felt the speaker had a very "off" personal vibe, something that, in the words of a younger student, "creeped them right out." The speaker acted like kind of a jerk to me, nothing new for this speaker, but the whole thing is great grist for my discernment mill.

I so miss my big fuzzy darling. Each time I have to tell someone he is gone, it is like an echo of that awful night again. Saturday I was up with friends who also have wolfhounds. They have a young male about a year old, a rescue, who is just settling into his new digs in wolfhound heaven up there in the foothills. He was fearful of all the guests until it was proven that we all had treats and that we could sit down and be at his height, at which point wild kisses and tail-wagging were forthcoming. Their older wolfhound, a female, instructed me to scratch her ears and rub her chest before I left. Content, she rested her big head in the crook of my elbow just as Wilson did when he died. I had to bury my face in her fur and take several deep breaths. Wolfhound fur absorbs lots of salt water and it was a very good thing indeed. I did get such a huge kick out of seeing their terrier mix and the male pup play--the terrier is WAY smarter and can corner on a dime, but she can't outrun the pup, so they were having a hugely good time up among the rocks and the trees, in the fog and rain. That pup will be solid muscle in another week--his new owners are trying to put weight on him, but I suspect it is a lost cause with all that running, which is actually really good for him and them. A tired puppy is a good puppy, in fact sometimes a tired puppy is THE ONLY good puppy.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Very sad times here

My sweet Wilson Wolfhound was euthanized early in the morning of February 17. He had become suddenly and acutely ill; I suspected heart failure or pneumonia. The vets found a foreign body in his stomach, aspiration pneumonia, and possibly more problems with the stomach. They wanted to take him into surgery, and I had a very bad feeling--I just couldn't do it this time. He went so peacefully, in my arms. It all happened so fast that I was simply in shock, but I just had such a bad feeling, I couldn't choose otherwise for him.

A necropsy showed that his left-sided heart disease had progressed very rapidly since being diagnosed last June. He was, in fact, in left-sided congestive heart failure with pulmonary edema at time of death. The cardiologist who reviewed the pathology results noted that we might have pulled him through one more surgery, but that the heart disease itself was incurable and had progressed to a point where he had very little quality time left. He was only four and a half years old.

When he was diagnosed last summer, I had said to the cardiologist that perhaps he was wearing his heart out by loving; he was the sweetest, most affectionate, silliest dog imaginable and had friends all over. I have had to break the news of his passing to so many--to people in coffee shops, pet supply stores, and all over the neighborhood. He loved so many people and so many people loved him. He was, at a very difficult time, a significant connection for me to the goodness of life itself, and his loss has hit me hard. I was numb for the first couple of weeks or so, but that has worn off, and I think I could have WRITTEN the books about grieving that were assigned for my pastoral care class. Sometimes my arms literally ache with sadness, the realization that I will never hug him again. It is the price of love, this grieving, a part of life, a part of created reality.

After my darling was put down, I sat at the vets with a cup of coffee to gather myself for the lonely drive home. Suddenly I heard screaming at the entrance. The staff person at the desk had gone back to ICU, so I ran to the door to find a couple holding their limp dog and screaming for help. I quickly let them in; as quickly a vet ran forward and took the dog back to treatment to see if they could resuscitate it. I got the couple sitting down, brought kleenex and a wastebasket, and sat rubbing backs, listening, and prompting them to breathe as they screamed and sobbed. I knew what news they were going to get from the vet... their little old dog had, in fact, had a heart attack or stroke and was dead, died in their arms on the way. There was nothing they could have done, but oh how well I know the need to go through the "if-onlies." If I had gotten there sooner, etc. I hope it helped them that I was there.

Then I took my guy's leash and collars and went on home, to my little old dogs, whom I will be spoiling nonstop for the rest of their days. However many or few those are. Thank heavens for them; returning to a house with no dog at all would have been awful.

Graduation is in about twelve weeks, maybe less. Who knows what I'll do then? I was not selected for the residency I'd applied for, so job-hunting is going to be a major focus. I hope I can get hospice work, even part time, and cobble together enough to get on with. It's scary and sad as well, not having my big goofball to love and come home to. But all this will pass. I keep telling myself.