Monday, March 4, 2013

Shoot to Kill and Heal, My Biggest Fear Today

Our street dead ends into a small grassy easement that leads to the back of a schoolyard. Crossing alongside the school property you end up in a nice city park. The whole time our kids were in middle school we walked them to the end of the street, followed the trail and then to school. To this day we walk that route to relax, exercise the dogs and enjoy the time outdoors. There is also a nice pasture property across the street from our house. From all that green space we get some pretty amazing wildlife activity.

Hearing coyotes at sunset is common from our house. Seeing fox, deer, skunks, raccoons and possum is not a big deal.  A few years ago I heard the coyotes going crazy, and I knew they had taken something down. The next morning I went to explore the end of the street, the pasture and green space. There was a big old deer almost completely eaten. I knew this guy; one of his legs was messed up. There was a blood and fur trail from the fence out into the middle of the field. He didn't make it over to get away this time…

My wife is a city girl, the baby of three girls, and never knew hunting or guns until she married into our family. I could not be more proud of her and how she has accepted the lifestyle. Almost all the meat we eat in our home is from game we harvested. She acquired her personal carry licenses and is proficient with most firearms. She still loves to shop and do all the things a city girl loves, but she is not afraid to take care of business like a country girl.

Not long ago as she and our youngest son walked the dogs down the street toward the park they saw a cat lying in the tall grass off the side of the worn trail. They recognized it as one of the feral cats that lives in the woods down there, nameless but recognized. It was moving slightly, erratic.

"Oh my, he must be hurt or sick. Quick, son, go get the gun. We have to put him out of his misery," she said with care and concern in her voice. Our son looked at her in disbelief -- who is this lady? They kept walking, and she repeated her request to him and to hurry; she did not want this kitty to suffer.  Whatever its fate had been she would end the pain and misery.

They moved closer to assess the wounds when the cat sprung up, looking at the humans and dogs. It evaluated its exit strategy and raced unscathed into the woods and its safe haven. My son laughed so hard his sides hurt.

A couple days ago as I sat in a coffee shop working, my phone rang.

"Honey, I think Rudy (our sons Border Collie) has killed one of the chickens," were the desperate and sad words my wife used. On occasion, as he does what Border Collies do, round up livestock or chickens in our case, one gets roughed up a bit.

"She is lying there, and I think she is hurt bad. You have to come home right away and shoot it. I don't want her to suffer."

I told her I had to complete the tasks at hand, and she was going to have to muster up the strength to pick up the poor wounded chicken and put it into the coop until I got home.

She was not happy with the idea of touching it but agreed.

"OK, I will," was the stressed and sad tone I heard from her.

Hours passed, and I called her to see how she was. She started right in telling me about the current project she was working on and other family news and information. I stopped her and asked how the chicken was and how bad it was moving her broken and bloody corpse into the coop.

"Oh, she is fine. She is with the rest of them and doing fine. I guess she wasn't hurt -- just stunned or something."

I laughed so hard I almost wrecked my truck.

My oldest son Cody Ryan has a fishing partner, David. David has struggled with a life-threatening illness for years. He has actually undergone hundreds of surgeries and continues to fight. One of the things that keeps David going is tournament bass fishing. He loves it and is quite accomplished at the national collegiate level. Just a few months ago, though, he was the sickest we had seen him experience. The doctors had little to no hope he would come out of a long coma that consumed him.

Everyone prepared for the worst, but hundreds of people prayed for healing. He came back, and it was nothing short of a miracle. In February, just a few months after his near-death experience, they fished their first tournament of the year and took third place. David also caught the second biggest bass of the event, the kicker that put them in the money. It was incredible. I cried as I read the tournament press release.

I have seen God heal the sick. I have seen myself, people, he has given the gift of healing. Use that gift to heal others. Does he always heal the sick? Does he always remove the cancer or bring someone out of a coma? No. Does He love on us, stand with us, care for us as we mourn the loss of someone? Yes. I cannot answer why some are healed and some are not. He knows. I don't. I do know that through the process, through pain, I learn my most intimate lessons about Him and me.

I found myself a little uneasy as of recent around the house. I have kept quiet about the sniffles and headache I had a few days ago. I used to be able to take a pretty good nap on the couch, but I am not sure about laying around our house these days. I can just hear it now, "Oh geeze, dad is sick. He looks out of it. This is it, the end. I guess we need to get the gun."