Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friday Fiction for February 6th, 2009

Since this blog is “Pod Tales and Ponderings”, it occurred to me that I really should add ponderings on a more regular basis. As such, I’d like to include some thoughts on this week’s Friday Fiction following the story. Be sure to visit Sherri’s blog, A Candid Thought, for Mr. Linky this week and more great fiction.

Just over six months ago, I took the plunge and entered the Faithwriters Weekly Challenge for the first time. The topic that week was “Patience”, and being one hundred percent new to the Challenge, I didn’t realize the topics each quarter all related to each other by a specific category. In this case, “Patience” referred to a game, not to the general concept of patience.

I wrote “The Watch” and submitted it, receiving quite a bit of positive feedback on the story despite it not placing in the final standings.

The Watch

Topic: Patience
Challenge Entry, Week of August 21, 2008

He stretched out in the cool grass and watched the door, keeping the old ball close between his front paws. The master would return soon, and he would be ready. Until then, he would do as he always did, and watch over the master’s home. For now, no threats were close, and he could wait in peace. The master always returned.

Nighttime came, and it was strange that the master wasn’t home yet. The master always opened the door and called for him before dark. He would chase the ball for the master until it was too dark for the master to see it, and then they would go inside. They would have a meal, and then he would curl up at the master’s feet. It shouldn’t be much longer; he could wait. The master always returned.

Other houses in the neighborhood called their dogs in, and soon were dark. His ears perked at the sound of one of the strange, noisy vehicles wailing in the distance. The master had left in one such vehicle, carried to it by two men. Perhaps the screaming vehicle was bringing the master home, and he looked in the direction of the sound. It was moving away, though, not coming closer. With a yawn, he laid his head on the ball, returning his eyes to the door. He would just have to wait a while longer. The master always returned.

He slept, occasionally waking to one noise or another, wondering if he was hearing the master’s return. The door, however, remained closed, and the ball ready between his paws. The master had said he would be back, and would find him waiting. The master always returned.

When the sun began to warm the damp grass, he picked up the ball and trotted his rounds, inspecting the periphery of the yard for anything amiss. It was one of the jobs he did for the master, and he wanted the master to be pleased that everything was in order and safe when he returned.

His patrol completed, he sat by the door and looked through the glass, holding the ball so that the master would see it as soon as he came home. They always played ball when the master returned.

In the afternoon, he moved back to the cool grass and watched the door, ignoring the hunger gnawing at his belly. The master had missed their meal, so there must have been something very important to keep him away. The master was good and trustworthy. They would have a special meal when the master returned.

The day ended, and still the door remained closed. What could be keeping the master? The master had never been gone this long before, but no matter; he would be waiting and ready regardless of how long it took. The master always returned.

He slept, and dreamed of the master. He held the ball up, and the master took it, smiling and laughing before throwing it across the yard. He would happily chase the ball for as long as the master wanted to throw it, just so that they could be together when the master returned.

Walking his patrol the next morning to conserve energy, he sniffed at each side and corner of the fence. He dropped the ball beside the water dish, and was lapping up the remnants of the water when he heard a click. Raising his ears, he looked towards the door before snatching up the ball and bounding towards the house.

The master always returned.

I love dogs. My wife and I have five Australian Shepherds, and I have been amazed over the years at the lessons that God has taught me through these wonderful companions. I would not be surprised to learn that God created that bond between humans and dogs before we left the Garden, and that He did so to teach us about the kind of relationship we could have with Him.

You see, dogs are not stupid. While there are some breeds that are not well known for their intelligence, the number of breeds that are quite smart are numerous, including the Aussies. For the most part, the limiting factor in training a dog like an Aussie is communicating to the dog what you want him to do. It is in their nature to want to please, and while it might sound like pet industry propaganda, most dogs will do anything they can for their master’s praise.

A good dog waits for us, and earnestly desires being with us. We could be gone for days or just minutes, and the dog is thrilled by our return. We call the dog, and he runs eagerly to us. If you lose your temper with the dog, or accidentally step on his tail, he doesn’t hold a grudge. Call him in love, and all is forgotten.

Would that I were that kind of servant to my Master.

It was interesting to read the comments following this challenge entry. I worked on the theme of waiting patiently, having faith in the master’s return, much as we were commanded to watch and wait for our Master’s return. We were told to not lose heart, but to be ready at any moment for Him. The allegory was not lost on the readers, but I was fascinated by the way different people read the ending.

You see, I purposely told the story from the dog’s POV, and ended it before the dog reaches the back door. He hears the door opening, and runs with confidence that the master has returned, but the story does not say whether it really is the master, or whether someone else has arrived to care for the dog until the master does return.

Our master tarries, and at times we’ve thought we heard Him coming back, but still we watch and wait. Do we, like the dog, continue to wait for the Master even if the sound we hear isn’t His return, or do we grow discouraged and stop believing in His return? Are we ready to run at a moment’s notice for the door, or have we grown disillusioned, and we’ll just lie in our corner until He has to come looking for us?

The Master always returns.


Sherri Ward said...

Good story! I love the final line, "The Master always returns." May he do so soon and find us faithful!

Dee Yoder said...

This story is so good, Rick, and I remember the impact of your last line when I first read it. It is an awesome allegory. I wish I could say I was always a faithful and watchful servant...sigh. But I do take joy in knowing He will return!

Joanne Sher said...

Incredible allegory. Excellent last line especially.

Sara Harricharan said...

I don't remember reading this one, but I do like it. I love how realistic it is and especially the end. I can just picture that welcome!

Unknown said...

As I read your story, the dog next door is barking, watching his own house for his master's return. I like the way that you show the faith that this dog has in his master's return. Thank you for this story and wonderful allegory.

BethL said...

There are so many good lessons with the dog and the master, "curling up at the master's feet" and "the master always returned" and "was good and trustworthy". You really put us inside this dog's head with his thoughts. And it's perfect!

Shelley Ledfors said...

Lovely, Rick. I remember reading this in the challenge and its impact is no less here. I relate to the spiritual truth presented here, and also to your appreciation for / connection with dogs. (We have 7 Bull Terriers--crazy, I know!) Thanks for sharing.

Patty Wysong said...

I missed this one last week, but I glad I caught it today. I loved the POV, and that you didn't tell us who was opening the door (and yes, I did wonder--but I was too glad someome was there to feed and water him!!)

And your ponderings? You're right. You should do more pondering on here. Very thought provoking. I'm soooo very glad to KNOW our Master will return!!!!