Lately, my old and familiar “companion” The Black Dog has been nipping at my ankles more than usual. He’s everywhere. I wish he would leave me alone. He’s there when I wake up, he travels with me on the buses and trains and he sits at my feet at work. He refuses to get lost. [I keep referring to it as a ‘he’ but I think it could actually be a ‘she’ as I suspect it’s pregnant with little Black Puppies].
It’s late October and getting colder in London. Leaves are falling off the trees, the days are shorter and soon we will change the clocks for Daylight Savings. The Black Dog thrives in this kind of dreary weather. While it is literally approaching the winter months in the UK, I feel as if my soul has been in a permanent winter for most of this year. The reason is because I’ve been searching for my mislaid mojo, my ‘oomph’, my zest for life and I can’t seem to find it anywhere. In fact, I don’t even know where to look or how to search for it. I often feel like I am a car with the accelerator going full throttle but am in neutral and so I’m burning out while standing still.
That’s the background to the story I am about to tell you.
Our multi-site church has recently acquired another building in South Kensington. It is an old, traditional and ornate building bordering on cold and austere. Al and I were early on Sunday afternoon so we sat in our chairs and gazed around at the decor. Al pointed out a huge brass cross at the front of the room and on top of it there was a dove flying out of heaven. ‘Hmmm, that’s pretty’, I whispered and didn’t think anything more of it.
At the end of the service, during the prayer time, the minister said that a few people had been praying before the service and had some words and pictures of knowledge they wanted to share. I listened to about five of these really sweet words but they were too dramatic and specific to apply to me.
I kept my eyes closed and my head bowed. I then heard a man say this:
I have a picture of someone in a place where it is winter. The ground is covered in snow. In fact, there is so much snow that they can’t see where they are going. They have a shovel and are trying to move the snow but it is so heavy and it seems pointless because they have no idea in which direction they should be shovelling. Then, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, a dove appears. The dove flaps its wings and begins to fly. It leads the person with the shovel in the direction they should go.
I was stunned. ‘That’s me!’ I thought. I’m stuck in a permanent winter and I can’t see my way out of the snow. I have a shovel and want to clear a path out but I don’t know how and in which direction I should start.
When I woke up this morning, I opened my eyelids and stared straight into the eyes of The Black Dog with his wet nose touching mine and his hot, morning breath on my cheek (It wasn’t Alastair – he was still asleep). I wondered, ‘What happened to the dove and the shovel and the direction and the snow?’ Surely I should now spring out of bed and shout with complete glee ‘Good morning God!’ But I couldn’t. Like usual, I sighed and mumbled ‘Good God, it’s morning.’ Why?
I realised that the picture was of a dove that will come soon but it’s not here yet. I must wait. I must keep a look out because it will happen in the future but not now. In spite of this, I think the words from last night made the wick of the tiny tea light candle in the darkest, deepest part of my soul glow a little brighter.
I’ll let you know when the dove arrives.