Tag Archive | conversation with Abbey

Hurry Up!

Abbey Profile 2

Yesterday morning, after breakfast, Abbey and I went outside for our usual morning walk. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky, but the temperature was 8 below zero. I put on my winter boots, bundled up with my down-filled jacket and pulled the hood over my head. Abbey waited patiently while I slipped on her harness and clipped on the leash. We stepped out the door to begin what I saw as a quick 5-minute walk down our driveway and around the circular drive among the condos, giving Abbey a chance to “do her business.” Abbey saw it differently – another 15-minute adventure outside.

“Come on, Abbey. It’s cold outside. Let’s get this walk over with.” Abbey didn’t hear me. She walked about 10 steps, nose to the ground, and stopped to sniff one particular spot in the snow extra carefully. I continued down the driveway until I got to the end of the 25-foot extend-a-leash. I turned around. Abbey was still sniffing that spot. “Come on, Abbey,” I called. She still ignored me. I gave a slight tug on the leash. She looked up, and then pranced in my direction. She came about 20 feet, and then stopped to “do her business.”

2014 Abbey in Snow 3“Good girl, Abbey. Let’s keep going. Let’s walk around the whole circle. Then we can go back inside where it’s warm.” Abbey looked at me like I was crazy, took a few steps, and buried her nose in the snow.   Then she looked up at me and called out, “Just a minute, Mom. Someone’s been here. I haven’t figured out who it was yet.”  So I waited while she sniffed some more. Finally she took a couple steps, and stopped to eat some snow. “This is good, Mom. You should try it.”

“No, thanks, Abbey. Come on. Aren’t you cold?”

“Just a minute, Mom. This snow tastes so good.” I stopped when I reached the end of the 25-foot leash again. I looked back to see what Abbey was doing now. She was standing up tall, listening in the direction of Kitty and Mickey’s condo. Sometimes they come outside when she walks by and they always bring a handful of MilkBones.

2014 Abbey in snow 2“Oh, Abbey. They’re not coming out today. It’s too cold.” Reluctantly Abbey walked my direction. Then she picked up another scent to follow. After about 15 minutes of this pattern Abbey and I returned to our condo. I was freezing. She was invigorated. “Abbey, I think it’s time we need to talk about our walks.”

“I agree, Mom. You seem really frustrated. What’s wrong?”

“Yes, I am frustrated, Abbey. It’s cold outside, and you don’t seem to have a clue what the word ‘hurry’ means.”

“Oh, Mom, you’re always in such a hurry. You’re so busy you don’t take time to do anything fun – or to take time to enjoy anything you’re doing. I thought joy was supposed to be your ‘perfect word’ for this year. You’re in too much of a hurry to find joy.”

Abbey’s rather harsh observation startled me. Am I really that busy? Every morning this year, I start my devotional time by reading a reflection by Sarah Young from her book, Jesus Calling. In this reflection, Jesus says, “Sit quietly in my presence while I bless you. Make your mind like a still pool of water, ready to receive whatever thoughts I drop into it.” A few sentences later, Jesus says, “Keep looking to Me and communicating with Me as we walk through this day together. Take time to rest by the wayside, for I am not in a hurry. A leisurely pace accomplishes more than hurried striving.” I have read these words 62 times so far this year. Apparently, I’m not heeding what Jesus says about not hurrying. I guess Abbey’s right.

An Unhurried LifeI’m going to try something new for Lent this year. I’m going to try to fast from hurry. It’s not an original idea. A few days ago I read about someone else who’s planning to do this. Linda Swanson has a blog called “Journey in Process.”  In her blog, she mentioned a book she’s reading, An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling.

I looked up the book on Amazon.com and was tempted to download a Kindle version to quickly skim the book for key ideas to help me before Lent starts tomorrow.  Then I realized, hurrying to get ready for Lent so that I can give up hurrying for Lent, doesn’t make too much sense. I think I’ll still buy the book, but I’ll order it as a paperback that Mim can read, too. (She’s technology resistant.) Then, maybe during Lent I can spend time studying the book at a more leisurely pace, and Mim and I can talk about it as we try to break the habit of hurrying.

Maria’s Story

Abbey is a good listener.

Abbey is a good listener.

“Hey, Abbey. Can you come here a minute? I need to talk, and I need someone to just listen.”

“OK, Mom. You know I’m always ready to just sit beside you and listen. What’s up?”

“I’m really sad today. I heard on the news that a woman in Madison was sentenced to 13 years in prison for killing her three-year-old son. I know that woman.”

“You do? How would you know a a person who killed a child?”

“She’s Maria. She’s been in the county jail for two years – from the time she was arrested, during her trial, and then waiting and waiting and waiting for the sentence.  She comes to the women’s worship service almost every other week, whenever she is allowed to come to the chapel.”

“Wow. You worship God with people who have killed people?”

“Abbey, God loves every man and woman in the county jail. There are lots of nice people in jail. Some of them have made mistakes and are sorry for them, and others are in jail by mistake – they really aren’t guilty. And some are in jail for good reason. God loves all of them.”

Abbey looked thoughtful as she said, “I know God loves them, but do they even think about God? I suppose maybe the ones that choose to go to “church” while they’re in jail think about God some. Maybe they are some of the nicer ones.”

“I wouldn’t describe every inmate that I see as I walk through the jail hallways to get to the chapel as a nice person, Abbey. But I wouldn’t describe every person I see as I walk down the street in Cambridge as a nice person either.”

“Boy, that’s for sure. I tried to say ‘good morning’ to a cat when Mim and I were out walking this morning, and the cat hissed something awful. I was just being friendly. That was not a nice cat! But tell me about Maria. Is she a nice person?”

jail - hand cuffs“Yes, she is. That’s partly why I was so sad to hear she was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Maria is from Mexico and has had a hard life. I don’t know many details, other than that she had a job, a boyfriend, and two children – the three-year-old boy who died and a baby. She didn’t speak much English, although she’s been learning enough to understand and speak it a little in jail out of necessity. Two years ago her son was injured. She took him to the hospital, where he died after a few days. She was blamed for his death. She claims her boyfriend is the one who injured the little boy, although she feels guilty for not protecting her son from her boyfriend. Two years ago when she was arrested, her other child, the baby, was taken from her and placed in foster care. She has not seen, nor heard anything about her baby since she was arrested.

“Can you imagine that, Abbey? Her three-year-old son was killed, her baby was taken away from her, and she’s been sitting in jail for two years waiting to find out what’s going to become of her life. And now she just learned that up to thirteen years in prison are ahead of her. I don’t know anything about the status of the relationship with her boyfriend, other than that he has not been charged with any crime related to the death of her son. I don’t know if he has visited her in jail, or not.”

“Wow, Mom. I see why you’re sad. And you said that Maria is a nice person. With all that’s happened to her, I wonder how she can be nice. I’d be so angry I’d growl at everyone around me!”

“I know it’s hard to understand, Abbey. Maria is very soft-spoken. Sometimes she looks really sad, but usually she tries to maintain a positive attitude, and she has such a pretty smile. She trusts that God will take care of her and she is thankful for that promise of God. Maria is also especially thankful that one of the jail chaplains arranged for her son’s ashes to be brought into the jail and that he held a funeral for her little boy. That was so important for Maria emotionally and spiritually. The chaplain even made all the arrangements necessary to have her son’s ashes sent to her family in Mexico for his final resting place.

“When Maria first started coming to the women’s worship service, another inmate who was bilingual interpreted everything for her. More recently, Maria has been giving her testimony in English, although she still prays in Spanish. A few weeks ago, Maria served as an interpreter for a new inmate who didn’t speak any English. Maria is so kind and gentle and caring. She’s a wonderful example of kindness and gentleness to other inmates.”

Abbey Profile 2“You know what that reminds me of, Mom?”

“What, Abbey?”

“You’ve told me that Pastor Jeff often says in his sermons that we may be the only ‘Jesus’ some people will ever see. Maybe God has allowed Maria to spend so much time in jail because she’s such a good ‘Jesus,’ and she may be the only ‘Jesus’ some inmates will ever see.”

“You may be right, Abbey. I certainly don’t know. But I do know that I am inspired by Maria’s gentleness, peacefulness, and loving attitude despite the twists and turns her life has taken. I also know she will need our prayers to be able to keep strong in her faith as she moves on to this next phase of her life as a prisoner.”

“Will you see her the next time you play the piano for the women’s worship service in jail?”

“I don’t know, Abbey. I don’t know if she’s been moved to the women’s prison yet, or if she’s still in the county jail? And, if she’s still here, it may or may not be the week for the women in her cell block to be able to go to “church.”

A prison cell door“Well, if you see her, tell her that I’ll be praying three things for her:  1) that God will keep her safe in prison;  2) that God will continue to comfort her and help her understand how much God loves her; and 3) that she will be a shining example of God’s presence in prison.”

“I’ll be sure to tell her, Abbey. And, thanks for listening to me. I really needed to talk about this today.”

Abbey-Marian