Are You ‘Silent About Things That Matter’?

I celebrated Valentine’s Day by doing something I’ve never done before: calling animal control.

It all began when I started learning to drive our stick-shift truck. During ‘driving practice’, I’d have (metaphorical) blinders on. It was me against the truck, and the battle demanded every bit of my focus.

Meet Curley, the sweet puppy I grew up with.

Meet Curley, the sweet puppy I grew up with.

Gradually, I started looking around as I drove. When I did, I noticed an elegant German Shepherd with mournful eyes. She’d bark at me, but I could tell her heart wasn’t in it.

She was chained to a tree. She had food and water, but only an unlined barrel for shelter. 

I asked around, and found that, as I’d feared, the dog was never unchained. I also learned that several neighbors had approached the owners to advocate for the animal … to no avail.

I didn’t know what to do. I thought of her every time the temperature dipped below freezing.

***

Days passed. Every time I saw the dog, I felt a tug at my spirit. My conscience said, Do something. Don’t pretend this doesn’t break your heart.

I mentally replied, Like what? It’s not my business …

The tug said: But it is. It is, because you’ve seen it, and you know it isn’t right. Please, do something.

But I didn’t know how to respond. When I passed the dog, I ducked my head, ashamed.

***

The day before Valentine’s Day, my husband and I invited friends over. The conversation turned to the dog; they’d noticed her too. Collectively, we agreed that her situation was awful. Our friends mentioned a rescue league as a possible resource, and I heard myself say, “Good idea. I’ll look them up first thing tomorrow.”

And suddenly, I knew that I would. Our friends’ distress marked the tipping point. I could push aside my own sadness and fear for the animal, but I couldn’t ignore the same emotions on their faces.

I would give this sad-eyed dog a Valentine, the only one I could think to give.

How every dog ought to be loved.

How every dog ought to be loved.

The next day, I did some research. I learned that chaining is banned in several states and communities, but not ours. However, I also discovered that insufficient shelter is grounds for neglect, and that our town’s animal control office was the place to report such conditions.

With my heart beating fast, I dialed and described the dog to the woman on the line. She assured me they’d send someone to assess the situation. I hung up, flooded with relief.

Now at least I’ve done something, I thought.

***

Days later, I saw the dog again, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The unlined barrel had vanished, and a dog house had appeared. The dog was still chained, but now, she had shelter.

Did a visit from animal control prompt this? Perhaps. If I had to guess, I’d say that the dog house is a cumulative result. Just as I needed the voice of my conscience and a push from our friends to do the right thing, perhaps the dog’s owners needed a visit from their neighbors and from animal control to get that dog house.

When I realize this, I feel compassion where I used to feel anger. Though I’m incapable of chaining a dog and depriving it of shelter, I am capable of waiting weeks before doing the right, necessary thing. I have something in common with those owners, and so I cannot judge them.

I tell you this as a confession, and also a plea: when your conscience is calling, answer. When you see injustice and cruelty, do something about it. Do it for others, and do it for yourself as well.

Why? In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

And our lives begin anew the day we break that silence.

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Have you faced a similar ‘call to action’? Join the conversation in the comments!

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Fed up with an ‘impossible’ person? Tired of a situation that may never change?

Pick up my new Kindle* Single, I Was a Stranger to Beauty (ThinkPiece Publishing).

*If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry! You can use Amazon’s (free) Kindle Cloud Reader.

Upcoming speaking engagements – if you’re in the area(s), I’d love to see you there!

  • Living Spirit Church, Florence, AL, Sunday, March 3, 1:30pm
  • Redeemer Presbyterian, Florence, AL, Sunday, March 10, 10:30am
  • Faith Inclusion Network, That All May Worship Conference, Norfolk, VA, Friday-Saturday, March 14-15

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So Much to Celebrate: Thoughts on A Wish Come Clear’s Second Anniversary

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Here’s what I’d like to share with you today:

1. A tremendous amount of gratitude. The launch of my new Kindle Single*, I Was a Stranger to Beauty, has been an amazing experience. I’m so thankful to have released this book with ThinkPiece Publishing; Adam Wahlberg and his team have done a phenomenal job. (And remember, sales support a great cause too: 5% of the proceeds from the first 30 days go to L’Arche DC.)

I Was a Stranger to BeautyAnd thanks to your support, the Single debuted at #3 in the Special Needs Memoirs and Special Needs Ebooks on Amazon. 

Going into this launch, I had zero expectations with regards to rankings. With every book I write, my hope is that the story speaks out to you. I hope that it makes you laugh and cry and have more brave days.

And of course I want it to do well. Yet as launch day drew near, I did what most writers do: I simply prayed that it would not be a complete flop. And even if it was, I prayed to keep it in perspective, to remember that real success is in the effort, the attempt, the ‘showing up’.

Given this, it was wild to see that we made the top three in two categories. Just wild. I was giddy, making ridiculous comments like, “Number three! You get a medal for third in the Olympics!”

The ranking was just icing on the cake, though. The substance of ‘success’ was the sense of having dared to put this book out there. It was the beautiful comments from you. It was talking to my parents, and seeing how our family’s struggle was actually helping others.

It was the feeling that this was exactly what I was meant to be doing. It was the same feeling I had as I walked up the stairs to a certain L’Arche home for the first time in 2007. It was the feeling of coming home.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

*If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry! You can read Kindle books with Amazon’s (free) Kindle Cloud Reader. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also borrow the book through Amazon’s Lending Library.

2. Two new guest posts!

My gratitude to Barrie and Tammy for allowing me to contribute to their lovely sites. And thank you to The Speech Ladies, Kristina and Cindy, who ran a special post to announce I Was A Stranger to Beauty.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Caroline and Willie

An illustration from my very first book, age 5, entitled, “My Brother.”

3. A revised version of Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive), thanks to my dear friend and designer Tamara Templeman.

This book is my gift to you; feel free to share it with those you love. If you believe that it will serve someone else, pass it on!

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. A Wish Come Clear had its two-year anniversary last Wednesday; in the excitement of the launch, I nearly forgot. But two years, 126 posts, and an amazing community? That’s worth celebrating.

For two years, we’ve been sharing true stories together …

and sharing stories is a way of bearing the light.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

***

How will you spend the MLK Holiday? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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*L’Arche is a faith-based non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. I spent 5 years serving the DC community in various caregiving roles.

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