It was a good day, it was a great day, it was such a wonderful day that Cedric could just almost hardly stand it! Oh, he could barely contain his enthusiasm. His whole body wagged in joyful exuberance while he impatiently contemplated the impending blessed event. Even as he entertained these joyful thoughts, THE MOMMY was on her way over to the front closet to retrieve the long line and take him on what she called “an excursionary adventure!” Which meant they were about to take a walk.
Now that the weather was warming up, THE MOMMY and some of his other people had decided that it was a great time to join “The Feel Good Society”. He had heard them talking about it the other day. They did that by walking.
Well, if anyone ought to be the first to join this fun and fantastic group, Cedric was that person. He liked walking. He loved walking! He lived to go walking. He felt good. And walking made him feel even better. Yep! Cedric was your dog if you were a member of this lovely group and wanted to exercise the rites and privileges connected hereto. Sign him up, and he would find a way to pay the dues. He didn’t care how high they might be. Somehow he’d find a way.
“Are you ready, Ceddie?” THE MOMMY was asking.
You don’t have to ask me twice, Cedric thought, smiling.
Forcing himself to sit as still as someone who was feeling as good as he was proved a bit of a challenge; nevertheless, Cedric made himself wait while THE MOMMY attached the long line to his permanent necklace, the fancily braided piece of pretty nylon threads that proclaimed to the world that Cedric was a family dog: the head of his own people group, who served him constantly, and looked to him to keep them safe when they were weak and vulnerable.
He wasn’t wanting to be proud, and he tried hard not to dwell too much on it, but Cedric was inordinately proud of his necklace. Other dogs might not have a necklace to call their own. Or, if they did, theirs was just not as handsome – not quite as distinguished – as the one Cedric wore with pride every single day. Hanging from his necklace were a couple of metal charms stating his name and his rank in the family.
One of these was especially nice. THE BROTHER and THE SISTER had saved their own money to buy it for him “special order” they said. The charm was a blue rectangle, surrounded with sparkly things. They had debated constantly over whether to get the sparkles. “It’s sissy!” declared THE BROTHER. Cedric wasn’t sure what that meant, but it couldn’t be good. If something was “sissy” then he wanted no part of it. No, sirree!
But then THE SISTER had said that “even men wear diamonds if they have the money for them”. So, here he was, the head of his own people group, with a special necklace, and a charm with diamonds. Which he was proud to wear. Cedric figured that if diamonds took a lot of strength and effort to procure, only strong men would be wearing them. As a strong, manly male figure himself, he’d wear them with pride, if only because his people had gone out of their way to give him such a rich and beautiful gift.
He felt another wiggle about to shake his whole body as THE MOMMY leaned down to attach the line to his necklace.
“Sit still, Cedric!” she demanded, lowering her voice to that level that meant business.
What did she think he was trying to do? he wondered. He certainly wasn’t laying bricks or washing dishes! A dog whose dream of walking was about to be joyfully fulfilled was not very well equipped, if you asked him, for this miserable, lifeless sitting still business. He was sitting as still as he could. As still as anyone could who felt so good and who couldn’t wait to get out and see the world.
At last! The line was attached, and they were moving out the door.
Look! Another rabbit! Maybe they could chase it.
Over there was a prairie dog just poking his head out of his hole. Cedric had a few choice words for that trespassing rodent. He’d teach that creature – and his whole family with him!—not to tread on Cedric’s territory.
If he wasn’t attached to the long line. Which THE MOMMY was tugging at. “Keep moving, Cedric! We’re here for the exercise!” she was barking.
Exercise, Smexercise! Cedric thought. What’s the point if we can’t just go where the spirit leads us?
Though inwardly he sighed, outwardly, Cedric still smiled. He could at least put a good face on things, even if they weren’t going exactly according to plan. A little slower, he plunked his feet down, one in front of the other, wondering how one could be happy just moving in a boring old straight line.
But THE MOMMY was gurgling happy sounds and soft words to him now. Walking in a straight line certainly was making one of them happy. He looked up into her smiling face, and was rewarded with a gentle pat and a small dog treat. Hey! When did she pack those along? What a great surprise! Maybe this walking in a straight line business wasn’t all bad, after all.
They kept moving carefully, and in something that resembled a straight line. At least, that resembled a straight line more than it did a rectangle or a triangle or a circle. What was so great about that, Cedric could have never told you. But it sure did make his MOMMY happy. And Cedric was all about making his people happy. Whenever he knew how to do it.
As they moved forward, THE MOMMY was waving enthusiastically to her red-headed friend, Darla, who was out in the front, watering her yard. This was going to be another test of Cedric’s patience. Instead of walking in a straight line, they were now about to practice the fine and restrictive discipline of simply standing still.
This standing still routine was a trial for every dog he knew. Yet every MOMMY he had ever come across seemed naturally equipped for just such an exercise. Oh, yes, they might move their heads a bit, or wave their arms about for emphasis. But, geographically speaking – which was all that really counted on an excursionary adventure!—they were going nowhere.
If Cedric had owned a watch, especially a big, heavy pocket watch, he would have sighed aloud, hefted out the watch in super slow motion, then pointedly opened the cover, while maintaining eye contact with the women. But even that might not have been enough. As everyone knows, MOMMYs really like to talk. Especially with each other.
Quietly, Cedric prayed for patience as he tried to find some sort of diversion in the grasses and trees in the yard. Nothing.
Wait! THE MOMMY was telling her friend about “The Feel Good Society”. Maybe asking her to join? Well, that was what it sounded like at first.
But what if he had heard the words wrong? The other MOMMY was repeated some of the words back now, raising one eyebrow at Cedric as she continued, “. . . .don’t know of a single dog in my entire acquaintance—or memory—who could actually pass a field sobriety test. It’s probably not a realistic expectation. Especially for such a young animal.”
Cedric felt his indignation rising while Darla continued, “But you’re a good-hearted boy, aren’t you, Ceddie?” She smiled and gave him a friendly pat, without the dog treat she usually carried for him.
He had clearly misunderstood everyone. And it was all his fault. The “Feel Good Society” that he had been so eager to join wasn’t even real. Only a figment of Cedric’s kindly imagination.
Earlier in the month, Cedric must have clearly heard the words, “field sobriety test”. But they seemed a bit hurtful, harsh even, to his tender ears. He had not wanted to believe anyone he loved could use them in context with him, and had made a conscientious decision first of all not to dwell on those ugly words, and then to hear them as something different than what they actually were.
Because Jesus wants us to believe good things about each other.
He heard that at home all the time. Believing that his people could speak disparagingly of him – and in his own hearing, to top it all off—well, that was not only unthinkable to Cedric, but wasn’t it also what the Bible said, “rejoicing in evil”? He had heard that Jesus does not want anyone to be happy when he hears something bad about someone else. Dwelling on it would be to camp out for a while in this evil rejoicing business. Something Cedric had long ago set his mind not to do. He just wouldn’t go there.
But now, after he had decided to do the right thing, he found that his people had not followed him into the land of good behavior, the land which was always calling him, even in his dreams. No, no, and nope! They had gone their own way into the lands of gossip and rejoicing in evil. He would definitely need to pray this thing through.
Jesus, he called quietly in his spirit (even now, in the midst of his angst, not wanting to disturb THE MOMMY and her friend in their conversation), you have to give me a right heart here. Because my heart is definitely hurting. I didn’t rejoice in evil. But my people did. And they hurt me doing it.
He remembered the story of Jesus on the cross, praying to The Father for the very people who put him in that painful place, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Jesus wouldn’t say anything He didn’t mean. Especially while he was dying. So, this had to be important.
Cedric decided that since he and THE MOMMY apparently weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, he could just keep on praying. Lord, he continued praying silently, that was quite a lot of forgiveness you showed to the undeserving. I don’t have that kind of forgiveness on my own. I would like to. But I don’t. Would you give me your forgiveness for the people who have hurt me? Who continue to hurt me? I want to love them. And I have decided to forgive them. Again. But it sure is hard sometimes!
Suddenly, Cedric felt an unexpected peace flooding into his heart and mind, which lifted his spirits. He felt the peace flow all over and in him, even down to his toes. It was a very good feeling, based on a wonderful fact: the God who made him, loved him deeply. Had made him, in fact, to be deeply loved.
Helping him to move his feelings in the right direction, the friendly, warm sun was shining comfortably onto his back, and he was out and about, spending time with one of his favorite people on the entire planet, imperfect though she was.
They were about to get moving again. THE MOMMY was saying to her friend, “Well, I guess we’ll see you later!” And the friend was saying, “Call me sometime!” They waved, then Cedric and THE MOMMY were on their way.
He couldn’t help trying to run ahead a little bit. It was such a beautiful day, with so many things to see and smell and hear and chase. Who couldn’t feel good on a day like today? Especially when out walking!
The “Feel Good Society” wasn’t fake after all. Just not organized or declared. Well, Cedric himself would found the society and whip it – or walk it – into order. His really was a dog’s life. But he was grateful to have it. And when he couldn’t be grateful, he would return again to the One who could make everything all better.