It was about 1 p.m. on a recent Sunday afternoon when the woman was on her way home from church.
She’d listened to the sermon, which was a bit unusual. Sometimes, she busied herself during the homily by writing down a list in the clear margins of the church bulletin of things she needed to get done the following week.
But this sermon attracted her attention. It was about Lent and Pope Francis’ call for us not to forego chocolate, wine or any of those things that satiate our senses. Instead, it was a call to give up indifference – the act of looking away in the face of an obvious problem.
Don’t we all know the feeling? It can’t be fixed. Even if I help, it will happen all over again. Useless to try. Move on.
Maybe the woman paid close attention to the sermon because she liked Pope Francis’ way of thinking. Several months ago he’d suggested that pets went to Heaven. Her kind of guy.
So, on the way home, and peeling off I-77 at the Killian Road exit, the woman spotted something moving in the gnarly-landscaped no-man’s-land between the exit ramp and the interstate. She slowed and got a better look.
A little black, brown and white dog. From her car, she could see its ribs showing through like the folds of an accordion. The creature ran toward the interstate until the roar of 18-wheelers sent him back toward the exit ramp until the line of fast-moving cars turned him yet again toward the highway.
Clearly, the pup was frightened, hungry and far from home.
The situation seemed hopeless. It can’t be fixed. It would be unsafe to get out of the car. Useless to try. Soon enough the dog would get hit by an automobile and that would be that. Move on.
But the bit about giving up indifference was not giving up on her. At the top of the exit ramp, she said a curse word, pulled over and stepped out of her car in her Sunday best.
She crouched in the tall grass of no man’s land and called the dog. He would not come close. In fact, he went the other way.
Then, the Angel with the Can of Cat Food arrived on the scene – another woman who later explained she always took a can of cat food in her car for cases like these.
The pair spent the next hour coaxing the pup toward the food and keeping him away from traffic.
In the end, right there in the middle of all those cars and trucks flying by and the high brown grass of no-man’s land, the two women shared a fierce hug with the little dog tucked safely between them.
Not too much later, the human family of the dog arrived to take him home to Blythewood. Bo, raised to hunt squirrels, jumped about five feet in the air when he saw them.
Such is the Sunday afternoon story of giving up indifference.
Darn if it can’t make a little bit of difference.
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