A Black Dog, a Cheerful Priest, and an Unresponsive Walker

Prayer and Meditation Part II

When I go to my place of solitude I regularly see the same man walking his black dog. I drive slowly and carefully because, at dawn, his dog is hard to see. As I pass the dog’s owner I wave but never get a response. I think he should be friendlier, after all, this is Minnesota. If he doesn’t want to be friendly he could at least appreciate my concern for his unleashed dog and give me a “thanks for not running over my dog” courtesy wave. Maybe he thinks a wave might invite some weird conversation or confrontation, yet, after several years, you would think familiarity would at least produce a head nod.

I made a rare trip to a Catholic church for a First Communion service. The church service was simple and the sound system lacked sound. I am not used to this since most of my adult church life was spent in visitor-oriented churches with high expectations for a “quality show”. Sometimes it was high quality with a spiritual focus and other times only entertainment. Showtime brought in visitors and kept people coming back — then they learned to run the show themselves to bring in more visitors and the cycle continues. They called this cycle “discipleship”. We did not get a show that morning in the Catholic church but I liked what I could hear of the sermon. One striking part of the morning was the cheerful priest. Not only was he smiling and engaged, he beamed with unmistakable joy.

Recently I arrived at my solitude destination after sunup so I didn’t need to creep along to avoid the black dog. I parked the car and along came the unresponsive walker. I now realize he is also the cheerful priest. He walked by so I asked if he was the priest from . . . .  He said “yes”. I said I enjoyed being at the First Communion service last Sunday. He said “Thank you”. With my two sentences and his three words we were actually having a conversation. I’m thinking this might be a Humphrey Bogart/Casablanca moment: “Louie, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. I told him I am blogging about Teresa of Avila knowing this might get the attention of a scholarly Catholic. He was very kind and added a few thoughts but I could tell he was ready to move on. I thanked him for stopping and said, “I am sorry to disrupt you.” which I thought completed my sentence but apparently it didn’t because he quickly added, “from my other duties”. I got the point.

My conversation, slow driving, waving, and even my presence were all potential distractions from his “other duties” of prayer and meditation. This was not a church CEO or religious marketer but a practitioner of the ancient pastoral art of prayer and meditation. The unresponsive walker is quite friendly. He is also quite responsive – to God.

Postscript: I must have established some credibility as a respecter of silence. I arrived this morning as he stepped into his car. He waved.

For Prayer and Meditation Part One: Click Here

Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker. Teresaofavilaturns500.wordpress.com

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Posted in 1st Mansions - Chapter 1, Stories and Parables
9 comments on “A Black Dog, a Cheerful Priest, and an Unresponsive Walker
  1. J Klecker says:

    Beautifully written.

  2. cindy says:

    A lovely read. I still smile when I think how you and Carly saved me and my daycare kids high on the hilll ll in Kaplans Woods after a deer encounter. You helped me down the hill with the stroller. I don’t know if you even remember that but you made some superhero comment that was so funny. It was the randomest place and I was distressed so I think it just sticks out in my mind.

    • Dave Small says:


      Thanks for taking the time to read and the reminder of the deer encounter in Kaplan’s Woods. I shared with Carly — she remembered as well.

      Nice to hear from you.


  3. I don’t know, I think the priest should have been more, well, priestly. It doesn’t take much to wave or be neighborly. And I do think that is what God would want. After all, aren’t you, as a person, one of his ‘duties’ Dave? 🙂

  4. Dave Small says:

    Reblogged this on Teresa of Avila Turns 500 and commented:

    I wrote this a few years ago on the value of mediation and reflection.

  5. Larry T says:

    Wow! Beautifully written description from a depth of thought and courtesy. I am reminded (as an introvert) that there’s no guilt in finding yourself considered rude by others (at times) due to introspection in semi-public places.

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