Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm More of a Daddy's Girl Myself

I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a Honda today that read:

Love Your Mother

Behind the message was a picture of the earth - meaning love Mother Earth.  I smiled and then thought: I'm more of a Daddy's girl myself.
I love the earth, but I don't call her my Mother. She didn't give birth to me.  I am not related to her. The molecules of my ancestors didn't roll out of her warm primordial womb, fuse magically into a single cell that then divides and multiplies into a slime ball that heads off to college to become a slightly more complex slime ball, which eventually, after many years of depending on Mother Earth and Big Papa Bang, graduates into a bent over, ape-like creature that grunts and hunts for something to bring to the 5 o'clock campfire dinner to share with the rest of the hairy, inarticulate group.  True, some days, I can only straighten up half way after a really good workout or a bad lift of the Sparklett's bottle, but still, YOU might call the earth Mama, but not me. 

This is the bumper sticker I would put on my car:

Love Your Teacher

So what does "Teacher Earth" teach me? 
All about my Father

I learn that He is creative, imaginative, has a sense of humor and a tender heart.  Take the peacock, for example.  Check out the colorful fan-like tail, the soft, dark eyes, the crazy early morning squawk that makes sleeping in a tent impossible. I can tell that my Father's personality is as faceted as that exotic bird's tail feathers. Even if you or I believe He created just a few birds back "In the beginning" (Like a sparrow and a duck?) and all the rest of the birds we see today evolved from those two species, you & I would still have to be amazed that their DNA could combine and mutate until we have a hummingbird and a bald eagle sharing air space.

Teacher Earth also teaches me that my Father believes in natural consequences and has a penchant for order over chaos. He made it so that we can't greedily over farm the land he has given us without causing a horrible dust bowl like we did in the Great Plains in the 1930's forcing us to examine our motives and methods. He made sure some animals eat their young, and while that seems barbaric to us humans, He knew that it would be a necessary part of keeping certain creatures from overpopulating or as I found out in a bit of research (i.e. Google), eating their babies makes parents fat and happy for further reproduction. On a personal note, I can say I am very glad that my Father decided to make Wolf Spiders cannibalistic. My hope is the mosquito will discover its children make great snacks before my next trip to Cape Cod. It could happen. Unless it throws off the balance of things to have mosquitoes die young.  My Father is all for survival of the species and this process is highly ordered.  He wants us to thrive along with Teacher Earth.  He says "Go forth and multiply!" (Genesis 9:7) Thanks to this verse, most Christians (except maybe the Baptists I grew up with!) believe He is all for reproduction, as long as the man, to quote the contemporary scholar Beyonce - puts a ring on it.  (For those of you who didn't see the Superbowl half time show, the "it" in this sentence refers to a woman's ring finger.)

You know what else Teacher Earth teaches me? 
That my Father understands and loves me.  He knew I would need air, light, water, food and other people to survive. Isn't it amazing how Teacher Earth so perfectly supports living, and not just living, but enjoyable living? He knew I would need something to make bad days bearable so he made dogs and chocolate.  Thank you, Father.  If I had to hole up with a peacock and a vanilla wafer after a hard day at work, I'd be a miserable soul.
So Teacher Earth, I do love you.
Just don't be offended if I love Daddy more.

-Hope Horner, 2013
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote or sign up at the top of this website to receive new entries in your inbox.
Teacher Earth:
Psalm 19
Romans 1:20

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cookie Chatterbox

You know you're a woman when you can spend twenty minutes having a lively conversation about an Oreo cookie.  
I did this recently with a friend from church. We were in the warehouse of a local charity, standing next to a box the size of a small car that was full of broken Oreo cookies. The cookies had been bagged up by the pound so we could place them into smaller boxes that would roll down the assembly line toward us and then be sent overseas to families in need along with other food items.  We both stared glossy-eyed at mountainous pile of crushed chocolaty lusciousness.

"Oreo cookies are just WRONG."
"I know, they are sooooo good."
"Can you believe all of these?"
"I know.  I just want to jump into this big box of Oreos and swim around with an open mouth."
"Oh my gosh, I TOTALLY hope that is what heaven is like!  A giant box of Oreo cookies."
"Yeah, with no diabetes to worry about."
"Or weight gain."
"You know what I love about Oreos?"
"Exactly! But seriously, they are just like the perfect cookie.  That soft frosting and the crunchy chocolate hard cookie on the outside.  That is some good stuff."
"Totally.  Have you ever tried Double Stuff?"
"Oh yeah."
"What about the ones dipped in chocolate?"
"They dip these things in chocolate?"
"Oh yeah, and mint.  It's like a giant Oreo Girl Scout Cookie."
"No way!  I have to try one of those."
"Oh yeah, you totally do."
"I have been trying to be good though and lay off the sugar."
"Are you diabetic?"
"Almost.  Pre-diabetic."
"Bummer.  I know.  I was too a few years ago.  Turned it around though."
"How'd you do that?"
"Laid off the Oreos."
"Oh really."

There's a reason for all this extra chatter. A recent study showed that women have a more of the protein called Foxp2 in the language center of their brains than men do.  What does this mean?  We talk more.  Way more.  The scientists found that the average woman speaks 20,000 words per day compared to the average man who speaks about 7,000 per day.  I could have saved these scientists a lot of money on research. Of course women speak 13,000 more words per day than men!  We have Oreos (and depending on the season - Girl Scout Thin Mints) to talk about!
Here's the thing.  I am not the most talkative woman on the planet.  If 20,000 is the average for women, and 7,000 for men - I'd say I'm at about 10 to 12, 000 per day.  I like to listen, to observe, let others do the talking and then chime in once in awhile, trying earnestly not to be sarcastic.  Certain people bring out the chat in me though - people who like to talk about ideas, what they've learned, books they've read, tough questions of the faith, dogs (and the crazy things they do), and of course, chocolate. So if you're up for some good conversation that involves any of the above, come on over and we'll use up some of those allotted words for the day.
Just don't forget the Oreos.

-Hope Horner, 2013
On Twitter @HopeNote

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Diamond in the Desert

I stumbled upon a basketball sized Diamond in the desert.  I was hiking along, just me, sand and sky when I saw a flicker of light way out in front of me. That's all it was at first.  It looked like a piece of aluminum reflecting the sun, but as I got closer, the flicker got wider, more intense, spreading into a bright beam which forced me to squint.  Then I was standing over it. It protruded from the sand like a magnificent crystal meteor.  A long WOW escaped from my lips as the sunlight danced in and out of the Diamond, casting rays in all directions. I stared and blinked for awhile, astounded at my find, then reached down and touched it gently with two fingers.  Slowly, I dropped to my knees and placed my hands on it. 
I turned my head quickly toward the loud voice behind me.
It was a pastor.  At least he looked like a pastor.  He had a clean-shaved round face, short, well-combed hair, black pants, a white dress shirt and a small gold cross around his neck.  He might have been a priest, but he wasn't wearing his collar.  Either way, he was totally overdressed for hiking in the desert.
"Don't move that Diamond, sister."  He smiled.  His voice was low and smooth.  He didn't sound intimidating, more like a parent being firm with a child about making their bed.
I stood up and brushed the sand off my knees, my heart still pounding from being startled.  Where in the world had he come from?  Man! I am finding all kinds of amazing things out here in the desert!  And I didn't even bring my metal detector!
"Why can't I move it?" I asked.  I tried to sound respectful.
He crossed his hands in a prayer pose on his stomach which stuck out over his belt.  He had not been starving out here in the desert like a monk, that was for sure.  
"Sister, the Diamond is not for you to touch.  It is for you to look at.  As my mother used to say, God rest her soul, 'See with your eyes and not your hands!' Or was that my 1st grade teacher?  Anyway, just look at it, my dear, don't touch it." A bead of sweat ran down his face near his eye and I wondered if he was going to unlock his hands to wipe it off.  He didn't.
"But I want to see what it looks like, what it feels like." I insisted.  "I want to know what's under it, how it got here.  It has so many facets to it!  Look!"  I pointed eagerly at the Diamond.  
"I know, I know."  He said. "But do you really need to see all that? Do you have to touch it to appreciate it?  Just love it for what it is--a big, beautiful Diamond given to us by God, sitting out here in the desert for us to look at and admire."  He seemed to glow as he moved closer to the Diamond, then he bent over and began to stroke it like a pet.  I could faintly detect his cologne, and strongly detect his body odor.  Calvin Klein meets men's locker-room.
I was astounded at his lack of curiosity.  "But how did it get here?  Don't you want to know?"  He kept his eyes focused on the Diamond.
"What does it matter?  I mean, does it matter how it got here, sister?  It is here.  It is beautiful.  Just love it, look at it, enjoy it.  Go home and tell others what you saw, but leave it here. Leave it alone. You can't pick it up and carry it anyway.  Many have tried.  It's too heavy.  It can't be moved."  He stood up slowly and his knees popped causing him to grimace before his face softened and he looked earnestly at me.
"This Diamond is here and it is for us to treasure, to cherish, look at and talk about. Pray over it if you wish.  Touch it and marvel at it.  Walk around it and stare at what God has made visible in it.  It is a thing of beauty! It shows us there is a God."  He looked away off into the distance and then re-focused his eyes back on the Diamond.  He rubbed the small cross around his neck as he gazed trance-like at the gem.    "It certainly is a work of art, isn't it? You can see God in it, in every flash and facet. Amazing.  We know it is sharper than glass. We know it reflects light and is very rare.  I believe this much beauty had to be created by the will of God, had to be inspired by God. Don't you believe, sister?"  He looked at me, his eyebrows raised, then brought the cross up to his lips, kissed it gently, then released it.  It stuck on to his sweaty neck at an awkward angle. My head was starting to hurt.  
"Believe?  Of course I believe!  But what do I believe?  In a God reflected in a Diamond I know very little about?"  He got closer to me.  He was either scowling or squinting. I couldn't tell.
"But I told you all you need to know about it! What do you not know?  It is hard, it is rare, it is..."
I cut him off. "It is mysterious!"  I threw up my hands in frustration.  Enough talk.  It was hot and I was getting cranky. I moved toward the Diamond and got down on my knees. 
 "You may be fine with what you can see, but I need to know how it got here.  Who made it.  Why it was made.  I want to know what the other side looks like, what it looks like in the darkness under the stars or what could possibly be under it.  Don't you have the slightest bit of curiosity?"  I dug my hands under the Diamond as the pastor rubbed his temples in a circular motion. His voice was flat, tired.
"I've seen enough already."  
The sand scorched my fingers as I continued to burrow and scratch under the Diamond.  I took a deep breath, leaned into it and... My goodness! It was as heavy as an anchor! My hands were too sweaty to get a good grip.  But I did move it a little; it turned over slightly.  
The pastor stepped toward me, his black leather shoe nearly coming down on my ankle.  
"I told you not to move it!  Why can't you just look at it? Enjoy it for what it is?"  I ignored him and dug my hands deeper into the sand, heaved as hard as I could and moved it again, not much, but enough to expose several new, shimmering facets near the bottom.  A bright beam of afternoon sunlight reflected off them and blinded me for a few seconds.
"Glory be!"  The pastor exclaimed as he leaned over my shoulder. "Will you look at that!" 
Once my eyes adjusted, I saw it.  Something was inscribed on the bottom of the Diamond:


- Hope A. Horner, 2013
Twitter @HopeNote
"For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires."  (Hebrews 4:12, NLT)

Monday, February 18, 2013


WARNING:  This entry contains graphic details of a suicide.  

I wrote this blog entry awhile ago, but couldn't publish it.  I was worried what it would do to my readers--worried it was too raw, too graphic, too real--that it might open old wounds, or expose new ones.  So I didn't post it on my blog.
Until today.  
I woke up, flipped on the news, and there she was.  
Mindy McCready. 
Country Music Star. Blond. Beautiful. Talented. Troubled. 
Police found her body in the same place where her boyfriend had killed himself about a month ago--her front porch. She died the same way too--self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  Her life was laden with addiction, severe depression and scandal.  Today she ended it all.  She was only 37. Her two young sons now in foster care.  I didn't know Mindy and am only vaguely familiar with her music, but I felt profound sadness when I heard the news.  Suicide rips at my heart. I have seen it.  Heard it.  Touched it. Felt it.  The entry below is about that experience. 


All I heard was my neighbor screaming.  The wall that separated our apartment was too thin to buffer her shrieks. I shot up from the couch, heart in my throat and ran next door.
Michelle was standing wide eyed in her front door, her hands outstretched as though she was free-falling toward me and wanted me to catch her. I rushed toward her.
"Ron killed himself!" She shouted, her voice wound up into an unnatural high. I froze. She lunged toward me, grabbed my arm and looked at me with wild, searching eyes, like she had just woken up from a bad dream and had no idea where she was.  Her voice was hoarse, loud, hysterical.
"He killed himself!  Ron!  Ron!! Ron?! Oh my God, Ron!!!"  
She let out a terrible, guttural half cry, half scream and ran back inside her apartment.  I didn't follow her. I couldn't move.  I couldn't breathe. A faint buzzing noise started up inside my head. The ground listed beneath me like a capsizing ship. I had no idea what to do. I heard heavy footsteps coming up fast behind me. Sean, a tall, hulking middle-aged USC student who lived in the apartment on the other side of Michelle's near the stairwell, pushed past me and into Michelle's apartment.  I watched as he headed to the back bedroom.  Michelle continued to wail from somewhere inside her apartment. She would shout things I couldn't understand, then sob loudly, then scream, "No!" or plead "Ron!" like she wanted him to answer her. Then there would be terrible, urgent, silence before her screaming would start again.  I couldn't hear Sean. Maybe he wasn't saying anything. I don't know what he was doing. I stepped inside the front door and stood in Michelle's living room, leaning one hand on the edge of a couch for balance. I felt sick. Sean came running out of the back bedroom, his breathing heavy and erratic.  He grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me slowly, but firmly backward out of Michelle's apartment.  His face was pale and sweaty. A few strands of his dark hair stuck to his crinkled forehead.  
"Do NOT go in there."  His voice was low and serious and his eyes dark with intensity. "Go back to your apartment and call 911."
So I did.
A few minutes later the paramedics, Fire Department and Sheriff's Department pulled up the long driveway next to our complex in a long caravan of screaming red and green flashing vehicles.  The landlady rushed toward them, unlocked the metal access gate and pointed them up the stairs towards Michelle's apartment on the 2nd floor.  The paramedics rushed up the stairs past Sean's apartment to Michele's, as I stood gaping from my front door.  They were inside her apartment for what seemed like a long time.  I paced near my apartment, my legs as stable as play dough, talking in nervous spurts with one of the deputies who was standing between my apartment and Michelle's.  Awhile later, the paramedics emerged from Michelle's apartment holding a stretcher.  As they came down the stairs, one paramedic in front, one in back, I could see Ron wrapped in a off-white blanket, strapped down with large straps like someone about to be executed, his head braced in a large yellow block. They walked down each step carefully, methodically, silently. I remember how quiet it was at that moment. No one was talking.  Michelle wasn't screaming.  I didn't know where she was. I didn't see Sean either. From my apartment I heard the doors slam, the turn of the engine and then the piercing scream of the siren as the ambulance tore off toward the hospital across town.
Ron was already dead when they put him in the ambulance. The deputy told us this as he tested both my and Sean's hands for gun powder residue back in my apartment. He wiped our hands with swabs, methodically but casually, explaining that this was common practice while making sure to get in between each finger. 
"I was in the back bedroom." The deputy said. He ran the swab along my index finger.  "He was DOA."  
Sean heaved a great sigh and nodded his head. He knew the ambulance ride to the hospital was in vain. They might as well have driven him straight to the mortuary. What Ron had wanted to accomplish -- he had. 
Later that night, as we sat numb in my living room, Sean filled me in on the details.
Ron and Michelle had gotten into a fight. In the middle of their heated exchange, Ron ran to the bedroom to get his Glock 19 handgun out of the bedroom closet.  Michelle ran after him.  Ron jumped on the bed with the gun, cocked it, and threatened to kill himself, placing the gun to his temple.  Michelle jumped in bed after him, tried to wrestle the gun away, but Ron managed to push her aside, kneel upright on the bed, put the gun to his head and pull the trigger.  He fell back, rolled off the bed and on to the floor. 
That was when I heard Michelle screaming.
I never heard the fight.
I never heard the gunshot.
But I did hear Michelle.
And over fifteen years later, I can still hear her screams --the screams of a woman in complete anguish and shock. Screams of Pain. Disbelief. Horror. Misery. Screams that make me shudder even now.
Ron didn't hear these screams.  One shot and he was dead, deaf to her wails.  He heard her scream before he pulled the trigger, but that was the last scream her heard.  There were many more after that.  Many, many more.
But those who commit suicide do not hear the screaming of those left behind.  The last thing they hear might be the sound of a gun, someone screaming "No!", a ringing in their ears, a blaring television, loud music, dripping water, a train coming, cars rushing along a highway or the drone of engine idling in a closed garage.
They don't hear the ones they leave behind. The ones left to wonder, regret, suffer, plead, scream, rant, writhe and survive.  The ones who must ask questions that can't be answered, apologize for tears that can't be stopped even years later in the most inopportune places - the ones left to wonder endlessly and aimlessly What if? What if? What if? until they finally fall asleep in the early morning hours or give up and become lifeless sleepwalkers during the day.

Eventually, Michelle stopped screaming. She moved away. She had family in Europe and I wonder if that is where she went. I wonder if she found hope in friends, in faith, in counseling and consoling or commiserating.  I wonder if she ever found a way to completely soothe her wound - to relax the churning stomach, silence the sound of that single gunshot.  Did she, like some, come crawling into God's lap and say, "I cannot let go of the one who let go. Help me."

After the ambulance left and deputy finished his interviews, the clean-up began. I was shocked to learn there was no professional clean-up crew to do the job. There was me, Sean, and my middle aged landlady. I don't remember being asked to help.  I just remember sponges, towels, cold water, bleach and buckets and being down on my hands and knees in the living room of Michelle's apartment, next to her couch, sopping up blood with a thick green sponge. The paramedics had carried Ron out of the bedroom and laid him down in the living room before they placed him on the stretcher. This was that spot. I remember pressing the sponge into the blood and ringing it out in the bucket.  I did this over and over.  Methodically.  I felt like I was watching myself do it, hovering above myself in a surrealistic state of consciousness.  The noise inside my head, like a circling, nagging wasp, returned. I stopped once and looked at my hands.  My fingers looked like they had been dipped in cherry Kool Aid.  Only this wasn't punch.  This was blood.  Ron's blood.  It never occurred to me that I should be wearing gloves.  I wasn't thinking about AIDS or hepatitis. I wasn't thinking. I was outside of my mind, floating somewhere in space, kneeling and sopping, bending and scrubbing, dabbing and wringing, shaking and sweating, trying to get Ron's blood out of the carpet and Michelle's screaming out of my ears.

This is a story I have been meaning to write for a long time.  One, to get it out of me.  All these years later and it still feels like it happened last week.  Maybe this will help silence the screams? Mainly though, I hope this story will encourage the hearts of those considering an exit from life to get help. Turn to your family, to friends, to a neighbor, a pastor, a teacher, turn to doctors, turn to God - turn to someone my brothers and sisters - don't turn on yourself. Scream for help now. Don't leave us behind, screaming without you.

Hope A. Horner
Twitter:  HopeNote
Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Dear John Letter

In the beginning was the WORD.
And the WORD was with God.
And the WORD was God.
(The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1-3.)

Dear John,
You could have made your book a lot easier to understand if you had written the first few verses of your gospel like this:
In the beginning was JESUS.
And JESUS was with God.
And JESUS was God.
But no.
You had to use the word WORD.
It took me almost 41 years to figure out exactly what you meant by WORD. I'm serious. When I was a kid going to Sunday School, I remember hearing this verse many times. My parents even made me memorize it.  But honestly, I never really understood what it meant. (What is the point of memorizing something I don't understand?!? Never mind. That is a different topic for another time.) Anyway, John, back in the day, when I would read:

In the beginning was the WORD
And the WORD was with God.
And the WORD was God.

I used to try to picture what you meant by the word WORD.  And you know what would happen?  I would picture this giant Bible floating in space at the beginning of time. Just hanging there in the galaxy with all the stars.  Really John, that is the image I had in my mind.  This giant black leather Bible open wide floating around out in the dark vastness of space like something out of Mel Brooks' movie Spaceballs.

"Admiral Space-Barnacle!  
"Yes, sir? What is it?"
"What is that up ahead?"
"Well, sir, I am not sure?  What do you make of it?"
Well it looks to me like a giant, uh, a book of some sort?
Is it a Bible, sir?
A Bible Admiral Space-Barnacle?  Out here in space?  It couldn't be!
Watch out!
Oh @&*!! Holy Gnostic Gnightmare!  Watch out!  
Sir! Pull up!  Pull up! We're about to crash right into the Psalms!"

I know that is not what you meant by WORD.
You did not mean the Bible was there in the beginning of time floating in space. But that is what I thought of when I heard the word...WORD. After all, the Bible is called the WORD of God, right?
Anyway, it was just a few days ago that I started reading a bunch of different commentaries on your book. I read one from 1908 by B.F. Wescott, one by William Barclay and the latest Zondervan edition. Fascinating. I read that your Gospel is a "spiritual gospel" not a "synoptic" or chronological gospel.  You wanted to do more than just tell the story of Jesus. Your friends - Matthew, Mark and Luke - they covered the life of Jesus very well in their books. They wrote "Jesus did this" and "Jesus went there" like reporters.  You wanted to do more than just tell a good story. You wanted people to BELIEVE.  You wanted people to know that Jesus loved them enough to die for them.  You wanted them to know who Jesus was - both man and God.  You wanted them to know this and believe it so they could have eternal life.
So why not just call Jesus JESUS right from the start?  Why do you call Him the WORD in the beginning of your book?
Wouldn't it have been easier just to use the word JESUS?
You weren't trying to make it easy.
You were trying to make sure it was understood.
You knew both Jews and Greeks would read your book and you had to find a word, the right word, the perfect WORD, to describe Jesus.
So you chose WORD.
Well, as I found out, the word WORD (Logos in Greek) meant a lot to both Jews and Greeks during the time when you were writing - in the mid to late first century A.D. (Yes, A.D. John. Don't worry, I haven't crossed over to the dark side and started to use "Common Era" stuff. I'll write you another letter about that later.) Anyway, back when you were writing, people understood WORD to mean logic or reason or wisdom or mind.  WORD was transcendent and important.  WORD was what spanned the gap between the spiritual and sensory world. Greeks and Jews alike asked, "How can I make sense of the world around me?" I need wisdom. I need reason. I need LOGOS or WORD.
And when I read that explanation John, I got it. I understood what you meant. I really did! So...I had to write you this letter because I wanted to let you know that finally, after all these years, the Bible stopped floating in space. I understood how WORD and JESUS were the same, but why you used WORD in the opening of your book instead of JESUS. You were writing with your audience in mind (like any good writer)! And you knew, that if you used the word WORD to represent JESUS - your readers at the time of your writing would understand Jesus as The Wisdom of God, The Mind of GOD - the Transcendent One who spans the gap between the spiritual and physical.  You really wanted your readers back in the first century to understand this.  You wanted me to understand it, too.  It's why you wrote your book in the first place.  I like how you wait until the end of your book to state your purpose for writing it. You write:
But this is written 
in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, 
the Son of God 
and that through believing on Him you may have life.

WORD up, John. WORD up!

Love in Christ,

- Hope Horner, 2013
Follow on Twitter and never miss an entry:  HopeNote

For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase "WORD UP!" - Please check out this online urban dictionary:
(Lucky for me, I had Cameo to help me out in the 80's.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Release the Hounds

To My Neighbor and Friend,

Today, you said goodbye to your beloved dog--
Your best friend,
Car companion,
Walk buddy,
Cancer remedy,
Your great big golden Lab of love.
You told the vet in a shallow voice, "Yes, now."  And you let, you watched, your heard him go.
And now your days are dark,
Lonely, long and listless.
No click clack on the wooden floor.
No lick lap in the bowl.
No pant, shake, whine or bark.
It's so quiet -- too quiet,
Except in your mind which clatters with memories, regrets, wishes and questions.
"Did I do it too soon?"
"Can it really be true?"
It will always be too soon, my friend,
And you will never fully believe that he is gone,
But you must believe that when you set him free of his pain, when you let him go -
This was the last gift you gave your precious pup.
I know it's hard to believe.  It wasn't like the other gifts you gave him.
It didn't squeak. 
It wasn't fluffy or furry. 
It didn't bounce. 
It wasn't chewey, meaty or salty. 
And it wasn't easy to give. 
But it was a gift of love.
And now, my friend, there are a few gifts you need to give yourself --
The gift of JOY remembering the fifteen years you shared;
The gift of PEACE knowing he is pain free;
The gift of HOPE realizing that the same God who sees the sparrow fall
Certainly saw your best friend take his final breath today,
And that somehow, someway, someday,
When we burst through heaven's doors
He will release the hounds
And all the pups we've said goodbye to over the years will bound toward us
Greeting us as they always do
With licks and leaps,
Eager eyes,
Wagging tails and tongues,
Welcoming us home.

To Karen in loving memory of Skyler who, on February 4th, joined Carmela, Sammy, Susie, Minnie, and so many others in the green fields of the great beyond.

-Hope A. Horner
Twitter: @HopeNote

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Oh What A Relief It Is!

The photo above was handed out at a Bible Study Group I go to on Tuesday nights.  The bold headline below the photo read "Blazing Black Holes Spotted in Spiral Beauty."  The "Spiral Beauty" is a galaxy known as Caldwell 5 and the two magenta spots in the photo are two black holes. We gazed at it in awe as the leader of our group, an admitted astronomy buff, explained that this galaxy is millions of light years away.  And huge.  Really, really HUGE.  Oh, and it is not our galaxy.  It is just one of millions of galaxies in our solar system.
On hearing this, the woman sitting next to me said:  "It's a relief, isn't it?"
I laughed and nodded but I wasn't sure yet what she meant.  A relief?
I had been looking at Caldwell 5 and thinking, "Oh my goodness. This galaxy is just one of millions?  You mean the Milky Way is just one of millions?!  We are soooo small.  Our planet is so small.  Our country, our state...ME! I am so small.  So insignificant."
She calls this a relief?  Her comment spun me around like zero gravity.
Then I got it.  
I leaned over toward her, pointed my finger right in the sparkly center of Caldwell 5 and asked with a twinkle in my eye and a big grin, "So you mean, I am not right here?"  
Now it was her turn to laugh.
Oh, yes, what a relief it is indeed, to stop thinking the whole world, the whole galaxy, revolves around ME.
What a relief it is to stop thinking my achy knee and itchy eyes are a major health concern.
What a relief to know that my workplace woes do not loom as big in real life, in the overall scheme of things, as they do in my mind.
What a relief to know that my struggles - my family heart breaks - the cancer, the back surgery, the slips and falls and depression and unemployment and travel mishaps are just tiny blips on my radar - blips that don't even register outside my home, let alone on NASA's fine tuned instruments.
This doesn't mean they aren't important.
But for goodness sake, it was about time I put them in perspective.  They had blown up like a star and their debris was clouding up my field of vision.  I was in danger of being sucked into the black hole of self-absorption and depression.
Yes, what a relief to know that I am not the Center of the Universe.
What a relief to know WHO IS.

-Hope A. Horner, 2012
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