Dead Grass Path

We love our dog. His old-soul name, George, just makes him adorable. It’s hard to admit that for years we held him hostage.  You see, we convinced ourselves it was for his own good. He loves our neighbor, and the tricky part is he must cross the speed-demon county road to visit. Like the game “Frogger” (if you’re over 40) or “Crossy-Road” (If you’re under twenty)…only it’s a black dog, not a…oh, never mind.

The remedy, a tether.  

It was a cinch to justify.  We had to be gone for days at a time and George could enjoy a full thirty-yard range of motion. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Okay, we feel your judgment and we’re sorry.

Along with stifling our dog’s backyard freedom, our actions also mutilated the grass. All thirty yards of it. 

A bald, bare, grassless path from the garage to the shed. A guilty reminder of our dirty deed.  

Our friend and resident Arborist and Operations Manager for Olive Leaf Landscaping gives good reason for the dead-grass path. “Soil compaction.” He says with great resolve. “Because the soil is repeatedly compacted, it doesn’t give ideal conditions for the grass to recover.  It damages the upper root zone.”  Ah! It’s good to have a learned friend or two. And every spring we beg and plead for help in growing grass in the dead-grass path.

Untether the dog, you say!  We have, YEARS ago.  And there is precisely the predicament.

Every inch of the backyard fence has been fortified and San Quentinized (not a real word but I’m going with it). George was set free. No tether. No chain. No thirty yards of shame. But still…he walks on the dead-grass path. In the spring, clover and chickweed blanket the bareness atop the path but it doesn’t take long for George to walk his beat. Even the weeds bow and bend until there’s nothing left but dirty dirt. 

George is FREE! His chain no longer dictates his path yet he STILL chooses to walk in the exact area of the yard which held him hostage for years. George…you are not on a leash or a tether or a chain.  

Go! Run! You’re free!

What’s your dead-grass path? Do you walk the beat of shame, doubt, low-throttle faith, mistrust, or are you simply just in love with your chains? We carry them around, talk about them, wear and display them like their accessories to our outfit.  When we walk the beat to everything bad that’s ever happened to us, over and over and over we kill every chance we have to really live well. And the worst part, it becomes what feels comfortable.

We kill the grass. The grass can’t recover if we repeatedly damage the roots with the heaviness of self-loathing. And really, I’ve heard it said, self-loathing is just another form of being conceited. WHAT? Hard swallow…it’s still all about you. Ouch! Hugs! I think you’re fabulous, darling!  (Words my Literary Liaison Lady would say to me to stop the burning pain of truth)

Set yourself free! With the assurance of God’s unfathomable love, you can bend down and slip off the chains. Your choice.

In his book, New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton beautifully describes this prisoner-by-choice thought. 

 “When we understand the dialectic of life and death we will learn to take risks implied by faith, to make the choices that will deliver us from our routine self and open to us a door of a new being, a new reality…for how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery.  God cannot plant His liberty in me because I am a prisoner and I do not even desire to be free.  I love my captivity and I imprison myself in the desire for the things that I hate.  I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me.  I must learn to “leave myself” in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God.”

Move past and move on to the green side of the path. Yes, the pain of the past will always be part of your story, but don’t let it dictate your steps and define your future. And bonus, God wants to use YOUR story of tether-free living to help unlock another’s chains. It’s a full-meal deal!  

Ditch the chains. They don’t go with your outfit anyway.  

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