Pastoral thoughts from a United Methodist in Western Kentucky (USA)
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Happiness Is Being a Labrador Retriever
I have been staring out of the office window for about an hour - I have a writing deadline next week that I am going to be hard-pressed to make, and as luck would have it, I have "block." Having Block is bad enough; worse, the writing deadline is for a homily resource - sermon illustrations for Lent! Writer's Block and Lent are a very bad combination!!
Since it isn't 5 PM yet, staring out the window is my only inspiration. About 30 minutes ago, a black labrador retriever walked by the window. All of the sudden, he took off like he had been scalded. He was chasing a squirrel, and they did a dos-si-do before the squirrel found a tree and ran up it. The dog was barking, jumping up at the tree, and then backed off and just looked up... and smiled that smile that only labradors have.
Watching them took me back to a memory I had when I was in seminary. It was the spring, and I was umpiring a small college baseball game. I can't remember the school, but what I remember was that the field was open along the left and right field foul lines past the dugout - no fence. Some of the fans sat in lawn chairs along the lines, and saw a grill going cooking burgers and such.
About midway in the game, a player from the visiting team hit a ball into an outfield gap and was trying to turn it into a double. As the runner rounded first base, I saw a black streak out of the corner of my eye come from the lawn chairs on the right field side. It was a black lab, and he was running full-throttle... toward the runner. As the runner was coming to second base, the dog clipped him. Hard. My partner stopped the game. I think the second baseman helped the runner up. Everyone was laughing on both teams except, of course, the runner.
Efforts to corral the dog were largely unsuccessful. The more players tried to chase him down, the more the dog thought it was play time, and that labrador retriever smile was just getting wider and wider. After a couple of minutes, he simply trotted back over to the right field side and laid down by the grill, where I'm sure someone fed him a hot dog or two.
While everyone else was trying to get their composure back, the catcher was having no luck in doing so, laughing harder and harder, tears coming out of his eyes and trying in vain to remain in an upright posture. Finally, he manages to crouch down and the pitcher throws a pitch. I don't remember if it was a ball or strike, because he started laughing uncontrollably again. The runner at 2nd base is not at all amused, so I told him, "Man, you better get a hold of yourself, or that guy is gonna come over here and whoop you."
The catcher simply said, "He'll probably whoop me for sure if he finds out that's my dog."
Now, I don't know who laughed harder, the batter, the catcher, or me. But I do remember that we had to stop the game. Again.