“Dear God, thank you for being my Father in Heaven. Thank you for all the things you give me every day so that I can live well. Thank you for letting me talk to you. And I'm really really sorry for letting you down, yet again. Thank you for giving me the chance to start again every time I go wrong. So please help me to do better starting from right now. Thank you for listening and I know you will help me if I listen to you. So please help me to listen hard and to know how to do what you want me to, so that between us and everyone else who knows you, that we can help make the world much better for everyone and all of your creation. Amen.”
She gets up from her knees and goes to make a cup of tea. In the kitchen she glances at a poster on the wall by the kettle, which has a pastoral scene overlaid with verses from the Bible that remind her each day of how to live a better life walking with God.
Returning to the lounge, she rubs the head of her lovely dog, Sam. He's been a faithful friend over the years, too. He licks her hand and wags his tail, thumping it on the floor heavily.
He lays at her feet while she lays back on the sofa, idly pointing the remote at the TV and browsing the offerings. She sees that there is a new series just starting, so, settling for that, she sips and watches.
It's not a bad programme, entertainment wise, and she is soon caught up in the characters shown. But loud motorbikes outside drown out some dialogue and she sticks two fingers towards the window, swearing. Immediately she is remorseful and feeling dirty for having used language that should be beneath her. Old habits and nuisance neighbours are not conducive to good Christianity. But, she thinks perhaps it is otherwise. Lots of things that she has read or heard swirl into her head, about Good Samaritans who give help to anyone in need, even if they are sworn enemies, and about forgiving people over and over. So could the motorcyclists be some sort of opportunity, perhaps? She also remembers the seemingly contradictive story of Jesus overturning tables in the temple when people were misusing it. So how does that tie in?
She can't make sense of it enough to know if these examples can help her to know what to do, when. When is it alright to be angry, or who has the right to be angry? And then how does someone react differently than two finger salutes and swearing? And anyway, it doesn't seem as if these yobbos will ever ask her forgiveness, so how can she give it?
She decides yet again that forgiveness is something that she should have ready, but that people can't receive it from her without owning that they need it. But she is sure that she is wrong to react so obscenely.
Whatever – it is time to take old Sam out for his walk around the park. He bounces around her feet as she fetches his lead and slips it onto his collar. They leave the house and walk to the park, where she is always grateful for the fresh air and all the natural surroundings.
Tunes fill her head as she hears the birds in the trees. She especially enjoys the songs of the blackbirds as they are so melodic and she sings back at them, smiling. She's reminded of a song and she sings it, letting it infuse her with its sentiment until for her nothing exists except for the joyfulness of being. She watches Sam chasing squirrels and pigeons, racing around with thundering paws. For him too, only happiness exists right now.
She sees another person across the park, heading towards them, and they also have a dog with them, so she calls Sam back to her before he can get into trouble with his enthusiasm for making friends, which is not always reciprocated.
But it's too late – he has seen the other dog and dashed across the park, barking joyfully.
And the owner scoops up his own dog and starts yelling at Sam crossly.
She runs to remedy the situation and is horrified to see the guy kicking at Sam, who is standing whimpering wanting to play with the little dog being held up high.
Sam dodges the kicks, but is confused. He knows he has been a good dog, not jumping up, so what is going on? Why is he being abused?
She slips the lead onto Sam's collar, pulls him away, and swears at the man, raging with frustration and crying too. She bends to Sam, soothing him and checking for injuries.
The man swears back at her that she should keep her mongrel under control. She stands, sticks two fingers up at him and walks Sam away smartly, while the man yells after her that she is a fucking moron. She is shaking, really upset that she has failed yet again to control her temper. She really should have apologised to the man. But then again, he should not have attacked Sam. Poor dog. But he seems to be his jolly self, wagging tail and pulling after pigeons again already. She is glad for him, but the songs have gone from her head and she wants to erase the incident.
“I'm sorry God, I'm so sorry. Oh God I don't know what to do. I just know I let you down again.”
She takes Sam back to the house, is too agitated to even make a cup of tea, sits with her head in her hands, distraught. Shaking herself out of the self-pity, she decides to be constructive and do some baking. Just something really easy. So mixes up a pack of bread mix then leaves it to prove and goes back to the TV, which now has an interesting documentary on about penguins.
Wakes up three hours later with backache from being curled on the cramped sofa with one leg hanging downwards and her head pounding from being lolled unsupported. She shifts her position, easing out the discomfort. Sam rouses at her feet and nuzzles her hand, licking a kiss. The TV is showing Songs of Praise. She feels that this is a God-incidence. And even more so when someone speaks about the story of the son who badly lets down his father and crawls back in shame, hoping that he will be allowed to do some work for him in return for food. The story unfolds showing the father really happy for the return of his son, since he hadn't even known if he was alive. The father just wants the best for his son, never mind the past. He gives him every chance to start again and throws a huge party to celebrate the son's return.
She is so overwhelmed with the reminder of how much God loves her and of what he has done to enable her to start again every time she messes up in any way.
She feels newly calmed and prays.
“Thank you God. Oh, I don't know what will happen next. But I do know that whatever comes, you will be there helping me to get through it, and helping me to start again every time that I need to, and that you always love me, because I am your child and that can never change.”
She feels clean and ready to start again.
Sam is asleep, his head on her feet. His paws twitch, as if he is dreaming about squirrels and pigeons. She gently nudges him and goes to put the kettle on and get him his dinner.
On the wall, the Biblical poster reminds her again of how to carry on living the best she can, with her friends to help her and she is content. Sam wagging beside her, she places his bowl on the floor for him and watches him, smiling, then begins to sing while the tea brews.
The bread baking in the oven later in the evening makes her wonder if there is anyone she can share it with. Perhaps she can invite the motorcyclists in for tea? Um no, that's silly. But maybe she can walk Sam into town with home-made sandwiches for the homeless person who is sure to be there.
She decides to make a casserole too.
The next day she has made a new friend. His name is Dave and he is very grateful for the hot chicken and vegetables and calls her a diamond and an angel. He holds out a morsel of chicken for Sam, who takes it then licks the gravy from Dave's fingers.
They chat until Dave finishes eating, then Dave gets out a guitar from his huge backpack and begins to strum and sing. She joins in and they sing together. “I see trees of green, red roses too...”
It's a wonderful world.