from the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Reflections magazine
by Marjorie George
Every morning I would see them through my window — the old man and the old dog trudging up the hill past my house. The man was tall, and maybe that contributed to his habit of walking stoop-shouldered. Every day in the same khaki shorts, even into the cool days of autumn.
In dog years, the animal was probably the elder, for he too moved slowly with ears back and tail down. He never ventured off into the grass that lined the sidewalk, never offered to stop for a sniff of an unfamiliar pile of leaves.
They moved in tandem, happy to be walking together in the morning breeze, the dog close by the old man’s side. Every morning it made my heart happy in an “all’s right with the world” kind of way.
Then they disappeared. For a long time I saw neither of them. From time to time I would think of them in the morning and wonder if all was right with their world. I learned it was not on the day I saw the old man again, walking stoop-shouldered in the familiar khaki shorts. But the dog was not by his side, and in his hand he carried an empty dog collar. He continues to walk most mornings, carrying the empty collar in his right hand, and it makes my heart hurt in a mournful kind of way.
We live in a world in which people and pets we love sometimes die too soon. We are subject to hurricane winds and out-of-control wildfires and madmen with assault rifles. Houses can be leveled, towns destroyed, and even in the sanctuary of God’s house unspeakable horror can come upon us.
From whence is our help to come? “Our help is in God” says our Catechism (The Book of Common Prayer, pg 845).
And what is our hope? “The Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world” continues the Catechism (BCP pg 861).
It is our assurance that “nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (BCP pg 862).
It is not by accident that the Church places “Christ the King” Sunday at the last week of the church year, just before the First Sunday of Advent. For the end of the story is that Christ will ultimately reign, and we need to be reminded of that just now.
On that day we pray in the collect that “the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.”
On that day in the psalm we are reminded that “God’s mercy is everlasting” and God’s “faithfulness endures from age to age” (100:4).
Our hope is in the name of Lord. Come O Come, Emmanuel.
Marjorie George is the editor of Reflections magazine and Reflections online. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org