A Canopy of grace …

It happened instaneously. The fear was immobilizing, and it was a good thing, because “frozen by fear” is a thing that can save you, or destroy you.

Walking along the dusty country road on a blossoming Spring morning the unexpected was not even on the horizon…yet there she was.

Tail…not wagging, in fact poker straight on what was left of it , she was upon us. She meant business. We were trespassers on “her land” and no she was not about to let us pass, that much was clear as murky pond water.

She was a myriad of browns and blacks, and I can’t recall even the color of her eyes, they were probably crimson red, but she rushed at us like “ a hound from hell,” and we stopped abruptly on our walk.

I was choked by my fear. Rhonda said, “ stand still.” I did.

Everything in me wanted to bolt, to climb a tree that was not even there, and yet, I stood..facing this unexpected adversary on a morning where none was even perceived not ten seconds before.

It was a glorious day .. fresh.. birds singing their song, and it was hopeful. It was a day for a walk. So we took Charlie the chocolate brown, easy going, chill lab for a stroll, not knowing what was up ahead. He is such a good boy.

My heart lept into my throat as that dog came upon us. I have said, and continued to say to my brother, and his wife, Rhonda, that had I been alone, I don’t even know what would have transpired.

I would have ran..which would not have been good. I know deep down that dog wanted to attack. The familiar “fight or flight” instinct was engaged. The air became still, and fraught with tension. I could hear my heart beating in my ears, the blood flowing through my body. I struggled to swallow.

I needed, we needed.. to stand our ground. We needed to face this adversary. I know in my heart that I would not have done that. Evil arrived that morning. Unexpected, and dark, and it meant business.

This encounter keeps rolling around in my head, and I acknowledge that so many times this can be what life puts in your path. A big roadblock that has bared teeth, and wants to sniff you out, and breathe it’s cold icy breath on your naked neck, but you must hold your ground and not flinch, even when everything in you wants to recoil, and seek shelter.

I did not even enter into being brave in that second. I jackhammered straight into a complete and petrified state of poker straight attention.

I was amazed at how my sister in law handled things. She was the epitome of calm..

I had witnessed a horrible dog fight when I was about 12 years old, and carried a fear of dogs a great deal of my life. I just did not trust them . Once we got our Beagles as pups later on in life, I was able to overcome that inclination to be scared. Raising them, and understanding their behaviour encouraged the previous fear to dissipate.

It’s astounding how the fear and mistrust is still there hidden deep within your person, and it only takes a moments provocation to unleash it.

My Mother used to say, “ take a hockey stick while you are out walking just in case you meet a nasty dog.” I would tease her that it was quite Canadian of her to use a hockey stick for protection from dogs. I had let my guard down. I was not prepared. I was vulnerable, and vulnerability is scary.

Thankfully, after this dog sniffed around Charlie for what seemed like an hour, but was really only seconds, Rhonda said,

“let’s just back away slowly, and carefully.”

We didn’t make any sudden movements, but slowly slid away from the beast in the direction from whence we came. The dog stayed put. She was guarding her land, and did not follow us.

Now to get my heart to get back inside my chest, and to get back into its normal rhythm, and let the air out of my lungs, as I had been holding my breath.

I grabbed Rhonda’s hand, and clutched it probably too tightly. I wanted to break into tears of relief. I thanked her for staying calm, and being there with me. You can bet I’m never walking down that dirt road past that house alone..ever.

Warning can be felt ahead of time, but that instant surprise awakening of terror is like none other when it hits straight out of the azure blue.

I ate two bugs the other day. They were not pan fried, and dipped in chocolate, they were alive.

I was riding my bike in the early morning along the Trail, and one right after the other, they flew directly into my mouth, and I kinda choked as they went straight down my throat. Good lesson. It’s best not to have a conversation out loud with yourself while riding a bike, because you may eat protein that you did not plan for. Perhaps I needed a mini power bar of energy that day? I remembered as a child taking swimming lessons, and the instructor kept telling me to keep my mouth closed or I would take in water. Apparently learning the hard way was the way that I learned. So after choking, and drinking in chlorinated pool water, my mouth stayed shut.

Walking through these seasons of life, I’ve seen this life trail morph and change. From ice and snow and the desolation and frigid cold, to the blossoming warmth of Spring, and green leaves of every type coming to life. The scent of lilac, apple and cherry blossoms fill the air. I breathe deep, taking in the earth smells of dirt, and leaves, and I ponder what heaven will be like . There is so much beauty to see all around. A family of Canada geese with their goslings, as I like to refer to them as their “ Ryan Goslings,” sorry dumb joke, but it amuses me.

A lone trillium sits proudly amongst the cedar, nestled comfortably, and waiting to be viewed.

My allergies are raging right now, but it’s not gonna keep me from the outdoors. It’s too good out there in nature. It’s so healing and necessary. It helps me think, and grieve, and cry, pray, and remember it all. The heartaches, the numerous blessings, and the messiness of this perfectly imperfect life that I’m living.

I drink from a cup that was my Mum’s, that she gave me, and I recall with wonder the many cups we shared together through the years.. perhaps thousands of cups of coffee consumed with talk of everything under the sun. She commented every time of how the bee on the handle was such a comfortable place to rest your thumb.. so cute. That memory is sweet and terrible… because she is not here to share a cup with me now.

I have her hands. She had her Mother’s hands. We have three generations of hands that have held one another, even down to our shared arthritic knuckles. As my Nan would say,

“ my hands are not pretty, but they can work hard.”

Love you Nan, such a great perspective.

Being with your thoughts and memories is sweet, but the longing to see my loved ones again is constant, and so it shall be.

It struck me as I was riding my bike that I was covered with “ a canopy of grace,” just like the rich green foliage all around me was like an umbrella of protection, and I felt held. Grief ebbs out in bits and pieces so that we may manage it. I’m so grateful for that .

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