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Posted Friday, September 30, 2011, at 4:04 PM


By Rayla Stewart Hogue

Special to the Daily Statesman

He and his sister ran down the steps of the balcony to explore their world. They parted ways at the base of the stairs. He ran out into the pasture to run--just because he could. His sister chose to head a different direction. He loved the freedom of running.

Stopping in the pasture to observe the tracks in the ground, he circled about slowly looking for sign. He quickly picked up the trail and trotted along looking for more signs and sniffing the scent of the trail. Of course, he knew the horses were only a short distance ahead of him, since all he had to do was look ahead to see them, but this was more fun.

He caught up to the "big kids" and as he approached them, he heard his mother call: "do your business and get back here--don't make me come after you!" Looking back toward the house, he saw his sister was already headed back to the deck where their mother stood watching them. He quickly "finished his business" and headed at a full run back to her.

Stretching out to lengthen his stride, he ran--loving the feel of the earth under his feet, the wind in his fur, and the joy of knowing his mother was watching him. He slowed for a moment as he weaved through fence posts, wire, and passed under the closed gate. Running again, he headed toward the stairs to the deck. He saw his sister as she nimbly ran up the stairs and into their mother's arms. The joy, the love between her and their mother was evident.

He wanted his reunion with mom to be just as joyous. He again lengthened his stride so that his fur streamed behind him. Slightly altering his path, he ran straight for the stairs and took the first step without a break in stride--or speed. The first step was easy . . . the second step reminded him of his age . . . the third step simply didn't happen. His feet were no long on the steps. He felt his breath whoosh out as his chest hit the stairs and his body slide back to the ground.

"Poco . . ." was as much as his mother got out before he stood up, shook himself, and look at the stairs once again. "Baby, want to come to the front . . ." his mom started to say as he willed himself to run up those stairs. Gauging the height he again started up the steps as a trot.

The first few steps passed with no negative incident. The next few steps, he could feel his body slowing. His mom moved to the gated platform at the top of the steps, opening the gate for him. He was almost half way up and his joints were threatening him again. Slowing his stride, he was determined to make it to the top without further incident. Almost to the top, he felt himself trip, however his determination kept him from falling, but his momentum was gone.

"It's okay baby, you can do this. Come to momma." He pulled himself up the last few steps to the landing and the warmth of his mother's arms. "Oh Poco, you're such a good boy. You are getting so old, but I'm so proud of you . . . ." His embarrassment waned and he burrowed himself into his mom, loving the feel of her arms and feeling her pride in him. Okay, he fell. His sister would bring it up later to embarrass him, however at this moment all he felt was the warmth of love.

We all fall. We all fail. We all disappoint ourselves and/or others as some point in our lives. It doesn't have to be a failure of our bodies, an incident outside of our control, a miscalculation, or even on purpose . . . we all fail. The important issue is what we do when we fail. Do we pick ourselves up? Do we give up? Perhaps the truth is that how we respond to failure is much more important than failure or success.

God knows that no matter how hard we try that there are times when we will fail. God has chosen to love us no matter what we do. God loves us because we are God's children. There is nothing that can change that relationship--we are each a child of God. Our success or failures do not affect that certainty. Perhaps that is the truth we should embrace in our lives--we are family. When one of us fails, we should help each other with love, concern, and compassion rather than condemnation, judgment, neglect, or coldness. The arms of someone who loves you give us the strength to pick ourselves up, and to try again.

God, your arms of love surround us when we succeed and even when we fail. Help us to open our arms wide in love to those we encounter in our lives. Help us to find our points of connection rather than concentrate upon our differences. Help us to cheer one another on to greater achievements rather than celebrated another's failure. God as we fill ourselves with the warmth of true love, help us to share that love with others--even those we don't particularly like. Thanks for giving us great examples of perseverance . . . like Poco falling, picking himself up, succeeding by making the effort, and rejoicing in the arms of love. So be it. Amen.

İRayla Stewart Hogue

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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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