Every beginning is best accompanied by God's blessings. Earlier this year, I happily joined in the blessing of a newly-graduated guide dog team. Audrey and her successor guide Bernie began home training in January and graduated just ten days later. While Southeastern Guide Dogs trainer Heidi Ilgen snapped pictures, long-time friend Pastor Lynnette D'Attley connected with us via phone all the way from Salem, IL. As Pastor Lynnette offered prayers, I held the phone on speaker, administered the sprinkling of water and made the sign of the Cross on the foreheads of this newly-bonded team.
Audrey says, "I realized almost immediately that it had been a long 10 years since working with a 2 year old brand new guide. thankfully, we both lived through our training-Bernie is so very tolerant and patient! Each day our bond grows tighter as we learn and love each other more."
As for Audrey's retired guide, Jessie, he has been promoted to "Executive Director of Homeland Security." His duties include but are not limited to holding down the sofa (where he still enjoys hanging out with his mom), greeting folks at the door--always with a favorite toy in his mouth--and removing crumbs from the kitchen floor. Both fur boys and their human mom are known and loved by so many, and I count it among my own greatest blessings to have them in my life.
Later in January, I was asked to officiate during the monthly meeting of the Friends of Bartimaeus, leading the group with music, devotions and prayers. Currently in its eighth year of ministry, this Christian outreach for the blind is one of around 40 in the United States and the only one of its kind in the state of South Carolina. During the January meeting, we recognized Rev. Christian King and her husband Kelvin for their efforts on behalf of the blindness community. A couple of years ago, while I was out walking, Rev. King stopped me as she was driving by and handed me a Braille pamphlet containing vital information from FEMA on the subject of disaster preparedness. Thanks to her kind and thoughtful gesture, my colleagues and I were able to make this information available in accessible formats throughout the local blindness community.
Spring comes early here in Charleston. Birds fill the air with song as they prepare to nest, and signs of new life are all around us. With the coming of spring, I am always reminded of a beautiful song that I learned in my middle-school chorus days, "Take These Wings" by Don Besig. This year, I was honored to present "Take These Wings" for a dear sister in Christ during her Celebration of Life service. Though I never met this beautiful lady in person, she and her sister found comfort listening to my CD's during her time in hospice care. "Take These Wings," with its poignant illustration of the circle of life, was a favorite between the two of them.
Then came Covid-19. To say that life is different now would certainly be an understatement! Still, during these past several months of quarantine measures, God seems always to find something for us to do. People in California, Florida and the Carolinas have had questions about the wonderful grocery-and-restaurant delivery apps that many of us in the blindness community have been enjoying for the past couple of years. Together, we helped people find dog food, order groceries and get nice meals delivered to their doors. Audrey and I both keep quality disposal masks on hand, and have been giving them to folks who don't have any. And, we're here for people who just need to talk. By the time I serve in ministry--even from home--walk my Sonny dog and keep the household stocked, there's really no time to be bored here. Nope, I haven't binge watched since binge watching was the thing to do!
I pray that everyone is staying safe and taking this virus seriously. Our bodies are God's temple, so we really need to take care of ourselves and watch out for one another. For me, it is a time to focus less on conventional gatherings in church buildings and concentrate more on doing my part as a member of The Body of Christ. It is a time to draw closer to God and ask Him to help us find creative ways in which we can share His love with others.
Treasured moments for me during this pandemic have included daily phone conversations with my mother. Mom is approaching the cusp of another milestone birthday, but one would not know that to be around her. She does so much for others in and around her community, maintains her home and yard with minimal assistance and clings to The Lord with an unshakeable faith. I thank God for every opportunity that He gives me to talk with her and other dear ones, back in my beloved home state of Illinois.
During this time of such tremendous unrest in our nation and our world, I stand with all of my brothers and sisters who are crying out for justice and peace. Every day, in communal devotions and prayers, Audrey and I pray that God will put each of us where He wants us, and use each of us where He puts us. We also ask that He help us to tear down the walls of division and build bridges of unity in our neighborhood, our city, our state, our nation and our world. The Bible tells us that our loving God is not the author of fear and confusion. In fact, His Word reminds us that His perfect Love casts out all fear. May our hearts and minds truly be transformed by God's peace--a peace that reaches far beyond all human understanding--in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is, by His promise written in the Scriptures, the same yesterday, today and forever.
Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart.
© 2020 by Laurel Jean Walden