Riding out the storm with Sally
My friends Wanda June and Leonard have a visitor for a few months. Their daughter has dropped off her aging German shepherd female while her family moves to Italy for a short-term military assignment. Sally, the dog, is very mild-mannered and gentle dog who sheds like a tornado at wheat harvest, drools during naps, and doesn’t like to sleep alone. She’s been in the family for years, coming to visit at Christmas with the family, and always present for the children’s birthday parties. She loves chicken bones, pizza crusts, and Leonard’s chair.
The only things Sally doesn’t like are thunder, lightning, high wind, and hail. She really hates it when they come in groups. Of course, her three months’ stay happens to coincide with “storm season.” Wanda June and Leonard had never been around Sally during a storm. They were fore-warned, of course. That is, when their daughter brought in the never-used dog bed, the fifty-pound bag of dog food, and the tattered Thunder-Jacket, she said to keep the jacket handy. “You’ll be glad you have it.”
The Thunder-Jacket came with dog-eared instructions. Their daughter demonstrated the complicated procedure for putting it on, and said if all else fails, just tie it around her neck … tight. That made Leonard a little nervous, but Wanda June assured her daughter there were very few storms around here. “Hasn’t even rained in four years.”
Of course, that was right before the rains came. Just as the wheels of the plane left the tarmac at DFW, the dark clouds rolled in from West Texas. Sally began by rooting up the pillows on the couch. She circled the kitchen three times, forced her way under the bed in the guest room, and chewed open her suitcase in search of her Thunder-Jacket. The television hadn’t even started beeping … but Sally knew. She’d already moved from storm “watch” to “warning.”
Leonard read the instructions while Wanda June put Sally in a half-Nelson and finally got the Thunder-Jacket fastened around her. Sally settled down a little, curled up at the foot of Leonard’s chair and put her head on his foot. “How sweet,” Leonard said.
Then lightning hit a tree down the block, and Sally came unglued. Before the thunder sounded, she had knocked Leonard’s chair over on its back and plastered her seventy-two pound body onto his prostrate form. It didn’t last long, Sally took off around the house, shaking and whining. Wanda June trailed her with a large blanket she’d pulled from the bed. “Maybe if we cover her up, she won’t hear the storm.” Leonard, on his hands and knees beside his over-turned chair began to howl. “Maybe she just wants sympathy.”
Sally had never shown much of a religious turn. She didn’t sit quietly while Leonard offered grace at the table. She stood nearby and noisily gobbled her kibble. She didn’t wait while Wanda June read her morning devotionals. She was known to fling her leash across Wanda June’s open Bible and howl. The devotional came at “go-out” time.
They figured that Sally was going to settle down when she went back into Leonard’s computer room. It’s a small closet-like affair where Leonard plays Free Cell and downloads viruses. She was gone for quite a few minutes, but came back carrying some pages out of a book.
In Sally’s effort to convince Wanda June and Leonard that they needed to make their hearts right with God, she’d torn out the book of Revelation and was bringing it to them. Sometimes it takes a storm in our lives to lead us to God.