Archive for February, 2009

On Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Christians. Lent is a somber time, a time of prayer, reflection, contemplation and, at least for me, of sorrow. Don’t know why, but I’ve always felt a bit doomy and gloomy at this time of year. Perhaps it was all those childhood Lents watching “The Greatest Story Ever Told” on New York’s channel 11 – the crucifixion scene always scared the heebie jeebies out of me. And after last night’s presidential address, I confess to feeling even more blue. Perhaps it isn’t either of those things, but the fact that my husband and I are watching our dear dog, Bella, in a deep decline and I know a very sad day is coming soon, perhaps as early as next week.

So. On that happy note, I ask you to pardon me from not offering you here a new set of Ash Wednesday prayers for your prayer beads. I can, however, refer you to what I offered last year near Ash Wednesday (my mom was in the hospital on the actual day).I hope it will get you through the next week or so. I know I’ll be praying it.

I also want to tell you that I am planning a set of prayers on the subject of grieving for our pets. I am collecting prayers in advance of my needing them – it is a comfort to me to do so. Does anyone have any favorite prayers for the passing of a dear pet?

And some news – during this Lenten season, Beliefnet.com will run two sets of prayers for the Anglican rosary that I have compiled and arranged. Isn’t that great? Both will be featured in a “gallery,” a kind of inspirational slide show. The first set will be on the theme of patience and strength (much needed right now) and the second set will be on the theme of light breaking through the darkness. I’ll keep you posted as to when they run.

In the meantime, I wish all of you who mark Lent a good Lenten season.

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The first 20 minutes of last night’s “The Colbert Report” was all about religion. Stephen had been selected by a dubious (my opinion) celebrity-focused prayer ministry as the “media leader” the faithful should pray for on the day of the taping, Feb. 23 ,because, in a paraphrase of the ministry’s press release, prayers  can influence the morality of the  decisions media leaders make.

Okay. Sure. If I am gonna pray for someone, it’s gonna be a starving child or a victim of genocide. But, whatever.

Anyway, Stephen put on his magic miracle prayer hat and his big prayer hands and gave it a try. His hilarious performance is a lesson in how not to pray. Take a look – go to the link above and look for Feb 23’s show. I can’t figure out how to link to it without making the video run.

So, what does Stephen teach us? That we should not ask God for material things, like, in Stephen’s case, an Audi with cotton candy air bags so you don’t care how long it takes the ambulance to arrive. The cool thing is Colbert is a devout Catholic who, one would assume, does believe in faith and prayer. Stay tuned to the show to watch his interview with Rev. Jim Martin, a one-time GE mover-and-shaker who is now a Jesuit priest. Their discussion on materialism slyly undercuts the satire of the previous prayer sketch.

Have fun. Then go put on your giant prayer hands and miracle cap and pray with beads.

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A couple of days ago, I heard from a new reader of the blog, a woman named Fran who lives in North Carolina and is a member of the Baha’i faith. She came across one of my previous entries on Baha’i prayer beads and sent me a lovely comment, which I posted. In it, she mentioned that though she does not use prayer beads, she does have some favorite Baha’i prayers that she relies on. I wrote to her and asked if she would share some of them that might be suitable for prayer beads of all types. I got a terrific reply:

“I will be happy to share any prayers with you. In my opinion, anyone can pray any of the hundreds of revealed Baha’i prayers whether they call themselves Baha’is or not. ‘Abdu’l Baha (the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, [whose] name means ‘Servant of the Glory’) once said (paraphrasing) that many people may call themselves Baha’is but do not “behave” accordingly while others may not consider themselves Baha’is but in fact, are because of their behavior.

Prayer beads are certainly not a requirement. I have some but seldom use them. It is usually when one desires to say a certain prayer many, many times, like say 95 or 100 in some cases, that they use the prayer beads. If I understand correctly, prayer beads that Baha’is use are not used like a rosary might be used. I was never Catholic so I may not have my facts straight about how people use rosaries.

One of my favorite prayers is for tests and difficulties. It is a prayer revealed by the Bab (which in Persian means “The Gate”). It is short yet very sweet.

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God, say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding.” –The Bab

The more times a prayer is said, the more powerful it is, we are told.

Another prayer I say often is the short healing prayer:

“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” Baha’u’llah

There are two prayers revealed for children but many adults use these, too, because they are easy to memorize and can benefit one regardless of age.

“He is God! O God, my God! Bestow upon me a pure heart, like unto a pearl.”

O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.”

I hope this is helpful. ”

I thought it was very helpful! Fran also recommended a couple of Baha’i prayer books. I especially loved what she says about it is one’s behavior that makes one a Baha’i or not – and not whether one adopts the label. I think this could – and should – be said of people of any and all faiths: that we shall know them by their deeds, and not by what they call themselves.

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The Return of Indulgences

I read this very good – though to me , a little baffling – religion story in The New York Times about the Catholic Church’s return to the granting of indulgences. You may remember (and I mention in Bead One, Pray Too) that in one of Martin Luther‘s great complaints against the Church was its selling of indulgences – a practice the Church has not engaged in for centuries and is not returning to now. But some of you of a certain age – or those with grandparents raised as Catholics – may remember that Catholics used to rush through the recitation of the rosary in order to gain an indulgence. Pope John Paul II took care of that, if my memory serves, in his apostolic letter on the rosary, which did much to restore its practice.

Anyway, I thought this was an interesting article, and best of all, it mentions prayer beads – the Catholic rosary, of course – and had pictures of people using them. What I found baffling was I did not think the reporter adequately explained how indulgences work and why the church would highlight this practice now. The priest’s explanation in the top of the story – “Because there is sin in the world” did not cut it for me. Any ideas out there?

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As the daily news gets worse and worse, I keep thinking back to the hopefulness of the inauguration, especially to the beautiful prayers of Rev. Gene Robinson, Rev. Rick Warren and Rev. Joseph Lowery. I have also been inspired and comforted by the prayers of Jewish, Hindu and other Christian leaders who wrote inaugural prayers at the request of Religion News Service. A couple of lines from each of these prayers have been sounding within me over the last two weeks, and I finally decided to lay them out as a set of prayers for my prayer beads.

Before I share this with you, let me say that I believe, above everything, that prayer has an enormous power to unite us and should never divide us. In that belief and spirit, I link together the prayers of these leaders, even thought they come from different faiths and certainly have different interpretations of God, His/Her will and what our purpose here is. It is my hope that all of us can find common ground in the spirit of these prayers. Perhaps in joining them all on one strand of prayer beads we can put aside our differences as well all pray for our country. You, of course, are free to pick and choose the prayers you like and discard the ones you don’t.

The first instruction is for the Anglican rosary and the second is for the Catholic rosary. I identify the author of each prayer by their initials: GR (Gene Robinson), RW (Rick Warren), JL (Joseph Lowery), WDJ (Wilfred de Jesus), BH (Brad Hirschfield), SR (Samuel Rodriguez), AGL (Anne Graham Lotz) and RZ (Rajan Zed)

This is what I came up with:

On the Cross, Crucifix or Other Terminal Charm:

Almighty God, our Father,
Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.
It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory. (RW)

On the Invitatory (Anglican Rosary) / First Our Father Bead (Catholic Rosary):

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land. (JL)

On the Three Hail Mary Beads (Catholic Rosary Only):

1-3 Peace, peace, peace be unto all. (RZ)

On the First Cruciform / Second Our Father Bead:

The Scripture tells us, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made. (RW)

On the First Set of Weeks / Decades Beads:

1 – Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility,

2 – the courage to lead us with integrity,

3 – the compassion to lead us with generosity.

4 – Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

5 – Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans–united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

6 – When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you–forgive us.

7 – When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone–forgive us.

8 – When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve–forgive us.

9 – And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

10 – Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all. (RW)

On the Second Cruciform Bead/ or Third Our Father Bead:

Lord God Almighty, you are the author and initiator of change. Humbly, we ask for the strength to put our hands on the arc of history and bend it once more towards the hope of a better day – one of freedom and peace. (WDJ)

On the Second Set of Weeks Beads / or Decades Beads:

1 – And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

2 – Help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

3 – We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

4 – Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors,

5 – when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

6 – For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, [and] mend our brokenness,

7 – heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

8 -Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

9 – Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

10 – Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen. (JL)

On the Cruciform Bead / Our Father Bead:

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will… (GR)

On the Third Set of Weeks Beads / or Decades Beads:

1 – Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

2 – Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

3 –Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

4 –Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

5 –Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

6 –Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

7 –Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world. (GR)

8 – Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

9 – Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

10 – Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen. (JL)

On the Fourth Cruciform Bead / Fourth Our Father Bead:

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States. (GR)

On the Fourth Set of Weeks Beads / Fourth Set of Decades Beads:

1 – Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

2 –Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

3 –Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

4 –Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

5 –Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

6 –Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

7 –And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace. (GR)

On the Fifth Set of Decade Beads (Catholic Rosary Only):

1 – Known by many names and called upon in many languages, we stand before You, God, as one nation.

2 – The Psalmist declares that the heavens belong to you, and that you have given the Earth to humanity. Strengthen this president, vice president and each of us to be good stewards of the this planet and our country. (BH)

3 – Thank you for our freedom which has not come easily, and is even now being defended by the courages sacrifice of those willing to lay down their lives. May we never abuse it or take it for granted.

4 – Give our new president a powerful, fresh encounter with yourself, so that on your behalf, he would exercise kindness, justice and righteousness in this nation and in the world. (AGL)

5 – [May] we stand against the voices that attempt tp draw us appart and commit ourselves to focusing on what holds us together: our love of God, family and country.

6 – Let this generation arise as the firewall against the spirit of violence, poverty, death and injustice. (SR)

7 -May we be protected together. May we be nourished together.

8 – May we work together with great vigor. May no obstacle arise between us.

9 – United [in our] resolve, united [in our] hearts, may our spirits be at one that we may long together dwell in unity and concord.

10 – Peace, peace, peace be unto all. (RZ)

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One of the many excuses – I MEAN REASONS – I have for not blogging as much as I would like to is now up and running at Faith and Leadership, a new online magazine published by Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C. I contributed an article about the spiritual practices of several Christian leaders and a couple of  sidebars, one detailing these leaders’ spiritual practices, and one on a successful book about Christian spiritual practices.

I really enjoyed working on this piece because prayer beads are, of course, a spiritual practice. But I was mildly surprised to learn that only one of the leaders I interviewed – Phyllis Tickle, who I have written about here before – actually uses prayer beads. (Phyllis greatly helped me with Bead One, Pray Too)I guess maybe I can’t see the forest for the prayer beads  – they loom very large to me.

What I loved about reporting this story was getting ask leaders I really admire – Jim Wallis, Anthony Campolo, Richard Land and Phyllis – about how they regularly and routinely spend time with the Divine every day. I particularly admire those who perform the prayer of examen at night. You have to be really brave to tackle this – not afraid to face all your failings and shorcomings on a daily basis – and then find sleep right afterwards! Yikes.

I also interviewed a couple of university and seminary professors for the piece, and in the process turned up some great resources for people interested in Christian spiritual practices, of which prayer beads are a form. One of the profs is Dorothy Bass, director of the Project on Education and Formation of People in Faith at Valparaiso University. Bass contributed to and edited Practicing Our Faith, a book about Christian spiritual practices that is the subject of one of the sidebars. Be sure and check out the website she maintains about Christian spiritual practices – it has tremendous resources. I also spoke with Elisabeth Koenig, a professor of ascetical theology at General Theological Seminary. She teaches course for seminary students about spiritual practices, including the Anglican rosary. I particularly liked what she had to say in the story about how  it is important for seminarians to spend time in spiritual practices while studying or their entire seminary education can be one cerebral expercise – not good preparation for a life serving the church.

One of my favorite parts of the interview process was asking these leaders why Protestants are returning to spiritual practices. I for one am not unhappy about the repudiation of some forms of Calvinism. John Calvin does not seem like I a guy I would want to sit next to in a church pew, you know? I think it’s a good thing to bounce back a bit from that extreme.

Take a look at the stories and the entire issue of Faith and Leadership and let me know what you think.

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This is Just for Fun

A good friend of mine recently shared an email sent to friends and family by her son-in-law. The email – really a short story I am calling “The Little Saga of Big Max”  – tells how my friend’s daughter Connie and son-in-law Mark “lost” and recovered their sassy beige pug, Max. I loved the email and just wanted to share it. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PRAYER OR PRAYER BEADS, SO YOU CAN STOP READING NOW, IF YOU LIKE.

Here is the email . . .

“HAHAH!  Victory is ours!
Astute readers will remember that a bit before Christmas we reported with sadness that our pug Max had run off.  While this is not uncommon (he is very friendly and seeks out the neighbors given any opportunity, including a loose board in the fence), he had always been recovered swiftly with a smug look on his face, as if to say “I have been out visiting and you couldn’t do a darn thing to stop me!”
This time however we could not find him, or a neighbor in possession of him.  The first night without him was sad as we imagined him confused, cold, and hungry, wondering where on earth were his pets that always pick him up by now.  We mounted a full on SAR including posters all over the neighborhood, canvassing the neighborhood using a phone service, trips to the pound, newspaper and internet ads, etc, etc, etc.  No stone was left unturned.  Days turned to weeks, Christmas came and went, and still no Max.  We enjoyed the egg nog as much as ever, but there was a bit of a pall cast on the rest of it.  There was the occasional phone call, but nothing ever panned out.
Just after New Years we got a call that was strange to the point that it strained credulity.  This woman who called said she was a pug owner, indeed a pug fanatic, and had noticed our fliers around the neighborhood.  She said that about the time we said we lost ours, her across-the-street neighbors suddenly got a pug that looked a lot like ours, and worst of all, she said, they were not pug kind of people! This hardly seemed damning. There are a lot of pugs, they all look similar, and what exactly is a pug kind of person?  Furthermore, claiming to identify a particular pug from the posters we had put up seemed to be a stretch, because while it was a good likeness, the photo we used was not even of our dog!!!  However this woman, this fanatic, seemed absolutely convinced.  We said, fine, snap some photos next time it’s out, and we’ll see if it looks like our dog.  She said she would be happy to do that.
In the meantime my wife showed the fanatic some photos of Max, and she exclaimed “That is DEFINITELY the dog I have seen!”  Well, we think, okay, from across the street, brief glimpses, but it’s a step in the positive direction, so we will try to follow up this lead.  So my son and I stopped by the house, acting like we were handing out lost dog fliers, and said “Here’s a poster of our lost pug, we are going through the neighborhood, just wondering if you have seen any dogs like this?”  The woman there (I will describe her using a term I learned this weekend:  Pure Whiskey Tango) said she had not seen any pugs at all.  I left the flier and said please call if you see one, by which I meant, in case you develop a conscience and want to return him to us.
So then the weeks turned into months, with the occasional sighting by the fanatic, but we were always at work or somehow late to get the message.  We didn’t want to storm the place at the drop of a hat, no telling if these idiots would try to hide him in a dry cleaner bag or down the garbage disposal, or if indeed he was an occasional visitor, if he would never come back.  Every chance we got, we would go on “Doggy Stakeout” and park down the street, waiting for them to let the dog out.  We hired a dog detective who did see the dog and agreed it resembled our dog, and she even took some photos, but it was from too far away and it was impossible to see any detail on the little tan blurry spot in the photo.  I know, you would think that a dog detective would have excellent surveillance equipment.  She didn’t.  But these occasional sightings, and now two witnesses that agree it “sure looks like your dog” kept us focused on that house.
It was during this “wait and watch” period that we got the little black pug (“Bug”) because part of the SAR protocol mandated visits to the pound every 4 days to update the poster and cruise the kennels.  The pound people won’t go look for you, you have to do it yourself.  And my poor bereft wife was wasting away without doggy companionship (apparently my manly ministrations and loyal devotion will take a girl only so far) so she was compelled to adopt Bug to fill the void.
Now I notice I forgot to mention above that pretty early on, when we had got a bit of a better idea that the dog in question resembled Max, we called Fresno PD and they actually walked through the house and said there was no pug to be seen.  Another reason we thought that the dog might also live somewhere else sometimes.
Then, about 2 weeks ago, we got a big break!  The fanatic, who will now be named Eileen because she turned out to be completely correct, not fanatical at all, had actually bought a camera with a big fat zoom lens, and got some EXCELLENT photos.  Good enough that we could see some identifying features, and making us 80-90% sure it was indeed Max.  But… one thing was different… he was VERY FAT.  The dognappers had made our poor pug fat!  They are known to run to obesity and you have to feed them minimally anyway, in order to keep them at a healthy weight.  But, the bottom line was, overnight we went from wondering if it could be our dog, to having pretty good information that it was.  Still, though, we were convinced that for some reason the dog was not at that location every day, and we still did not want to tip our hand.  The new plan was, if either Eileen or Doggy Detective saw the dog, to call us immediately and we would drop everything and go there for a confrontation.  Given that things had moved so slowly up to this point, I thought to myself, great, another 2 months of waiting for a good chance, when we are available AND the dog is definitely there.  The whole stakeout-wonder-if-it’s-even-our-dog-pay-the-damn-detective-HOW-much-money???-is-any-dog-even-worth-it thought process was starting to ring pretty loud.
Today the phone rang…
Connie was asleep and I was out jogging.  I got back and she immediately said “Eileen called 45 minutes ago!  The dog is there!”  I grabbed my keys and cell phone and with fear and trembling jumped in the car.
Got to the PWT house and saw the front yard gates closed (good! means dog is still about) and car still in the driveway.  Hopped the fence and pounded on the door.  PWT opened the door and I said “I believe you have my dog, my missing pug.  I would like to see it so I can identify it.”  She said “I don’t have a pug, I only have a German Shepherd.”  I said, “I know you have a Shepherd, but my friends saw a pug, it is here, and I need to see it.”  She was in the middle of lying to me some more when a little pug face popped out between her legs!!  I said “There it is!  Maxie is that you?” at which point she slammed the door in my face.  I hollered some choice bits at her and dialed Fresno PD.  They have been on my speed dial ever since this fiasco began (never assume 911 will do anything for you from a cell phone).  I explained the situation and they said they would send someone “as soon as possible.”
So I retreated to behind my car in case she was gonna get postal on me over a dog, I’m sure it has happened.  Nervously watched traffic for any sign of my backup.  I assumed the first thing PWT did after slamming the door was call her husband so I wanted 5-0 to be there before he arrived.  But before the husband OR the heat arrived, she loaded up her kid (!), and the dog, into the car, and got ready to leave.  As she unlocked the gate, I said “Can’t we talk about this?  We just want our dog back.”  She snapped that she was tired of us hassling her (!!) and was gonna take it back to the owner’s house, they were just taking care of it.
Now I’m faced with a dilemma.  Do I try to block her in her driveway, or let her leave?  I decide the blockade is too confrontational so hop in the car to follow them.  Meanwhile redialing FPD to tell them we’re on the move.  She pulls out and off we go.
You do realize what this means, don’t you?!?
NOW IT’S A CAR CHASE!  JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES!  Well without the crashing and the smashing and the flipping and there’s no John Bunnell narrating.
As we pull out the dispatcher answers and I update her.  She seems to spend a lot more time than I think she should trying to locate my original call.  We meander down the street.  This chick is puffing through more smokes than I thought possible.  Every few blocks a new butt flies out the window.  She is obviously experiencing stress.  She turns right from the left turn lane, she hangs wierd U-turns, gets on and off the freeway, I guess trying to lose me.  HA!  That crappy Jeep Cherokee is no match for Turbo Powered Subaru!  But this goes on for quite a while, all the time I am telling the dispatcher where we are as we zigzag our way across town.  She’s really driving aimlessly, probably trying to figure out what to do next.  I remark to the dispatcher that normally I can’t drive across town without seeing a few cruisers, and believe me I am looking for one, and if I see one I am going to create a goddamn ruckus.  She says one in “on the way.”  But further on we go, and still nothing.  Fortunately she never got wiggy because I would have to drop back lest she endanger the Child On Board.  Coming on 20 minutes of this aimless driving however and it’s getting old.  I am just afraid I am going to lose sight of them.
Finally!  The dispatcher says “The officer has you in sight” which was odd since I could not see him, until I craned my neck and looked way behind me… red and blue flashing lights!  Whew, that was a relief.  It took him another half mile to work his way through traffic and as soon as he was behind me I pulled over so he could have at her.  It was awesome.  He totally aggroed on her, honking the fire truck horn, full sirens and lights, shouting out his window for her to pull over NOW.  She made a right turn into a parking lane and he went screaming wide around her in a cut-off move as if he thought she was going to run for it.  He jumped out and did the full defensive approach, ordered her out of the car, and took her to the sidewalk.  Meanwhile I am parked behind them as instructed, waiting for further instructions.
Fortunately we have assembled a Doggy Identification Kit by now and were able to provide the officers with a fat wad of photos.  They looked at the photos, looked at the dog, and said “That’s good enough for us.  Take your dog.  Do you want to press charges?”  I wanted to say, yes, but only if dognapping is a hanging offense.  Really though all we wanted was our dog back and we had that so I said no, and that was that.  Done.  It has been 3 1/2 months and now Max is finally home.  To say we are relieved is to put it mildly.  When I got home I swear I thought I was going to see my wife hyperventilate herself into some sort of coma, she was so happy to see him.  He trotted in like he had never left and plopped his VERY fat ass onto my son’s blanket, just like he used to.  Except now he stinks like cigarettes, being locked in the getaway vehicle with the fugitive PWT, but that will go away with a bath.
Really though, the dog is home AND I got to have a car chase.  How could it get any better?”

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