Her claws click lightly on the worn linoleum of our kitchen floor. She senses the presence of a familiar foe just outside the door. Her nose presses stealthily through the rubber flap of the dog door, giving her a clear view of her target. The rest of her body remains inside, still, rigid, and ready. Her tail points straight as an arrow while her foe pretends not to notice her. Oh, he sees her, but he arrogantly continues chewing his acorn. “How dare you?!” she says with a growl. Or, at least, I imagine her saying this if she could.
Then, like a rocket, she launches through the door in pursuit of the squirrel. He darts away, acorn firmly tucked in his cheek, and up the ladder of the playground. Maya arrives a split second too late. She barks at the bottom of the ladder as he, once again, makes the impossible leap from the playground to the top of the privacy fence and out of site. After a few more barks, Maya (our neurotic nine-year-old boxer/beagle/pit bull hybrid) returns to the patio. She flops down with an exasperated harumph and says, “I’ll get you someday, you rotten, no-good squirrel!” Or, that’s what I imagine is the meaning of her harumph.
This chase happens often. Sometimes the other dogs follow Maya’s lead and join in, but it is mostly between her and the squirrel. It happens enough that a path has been worn permanently down the center of our yard, where she chases in pursuit. Every time she darts out, she takes the same route to the back of the yard, wearing the grass down a little more each time. But it’s not just when she is chasing her old foe, the squirrel. Every time she goes out that is the path she takes while the other dogs follow.
My path in life isn’t always so direct. I often veer off course. I’ve taken lots of twists and turns. Some have been purposeful, others forced. Some happened after careful thought and planning. Others just happened. I get bored when everything stays the same. I like change and new adventures. Maybe that’s why I made a significant career change in my 50s. Perhaps that’s why I’m pursuing such an unpredictable and unstable thing as writing and music at an age when I “should be” much more settled.
As much as I love change, adventure, and new experiences, I also need a familiar path to always orient myself. I need something I can always return to when I’m lost. I need something that reminds me of my identity as everything else changes. For me, this steady path is my faith. My faith has taken many twists and turns with the rest of me. It doesn’t look the same as it did even just a few years ago; my lived experience won’t allow it. I struggle to identify with some people I supposedly share a faith with. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be called a Christian if it means being associated with a hate-filled, homophobic, racist, gun-worshiping, conspiracy-believing crowd. But I AM a Christian. That is my well-worn path, which I intend to stay on. Christ is who I am chasing. That sounds weird. Christ isn’t running away shouting, “Haha! You can’t catch me!” But Christ is on the move. Christ is at work in the world. Christ is the path I always want to come back to when I wander off. The way of Christ is the well-worn ground I want to follow.