When our family moved to Central Florida in August of 1998, it was hot. August is like that in Florida. Afternoon thunderstorms that cool things in New Jersey, create a sauna effect down here. It was miserable.
We came down all of us together, two parents, three kids, and Ralph.
Ralph was our dog, one of the many dogs I’ve owned in my life; and most certainly, the best. He was given to us by cousins in Pennsylvania. They’d seen an ad for Beagle puppies and when they got there, they found Ralph. Though his 15″ Beagle mother was on site, they could tell that Ralph did not fall into the ranks of a purebred. Their suspicions were confirmed by the owner who explained that there was a large male German Shepherd next door who, evidently, jumped the fence. I’m sure it was not consensual. And so, we lovingly referred to Ralph as our “German Beagle”.
As I’ve said before, being a Jersey girl for 38 years did not prepare me for life in Florida. I wasn’t particularly happy but was determined to ‘suck it up’ and make the best of it for the sake of my family, especially our children.
I complained only on my morning walks with Ralph.
Our walks were laced with my talks to God. I explained to Him just how HOT it really was down here, in case he’d forgotten and needed to be reminded. I complained about the humidity and the hair frizz, the heat and the sweat, the sun and the weird 3:00 afternoon showers that you could almost set your clock by. As you can see, I complained a lot.
My faithful friend Ralph heard it all. And still he loved me. And still he walked on with me day after miserable day stuck in his fur coat and acting as if everything was perfect. Dogs are funny that way.
And then one day it happened…
Here we were, Ralph and I, taking our usual morning walk. He looking like he was having the time of his life and me voicing my unfortunate observances to a dog. Finally, I looked at him and asked, “Why in the world are you so happy?” To my surprise there was a reply, an unmistakable answer.
“He is content to be where his master has brought him.”
I stopped. I felt the impact of those words pierce my self-hardened heart. My dog had learned a lesson that I had not. He was content to go wherever we brought him. Wherever we were is where he wanted to be.
My heart was changed that day. Florida became my home. This is where my Master has brought me and I am content.
I’d like to say it was “not that big a deal”, but it really was…