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Leap of Faith

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Inspired by a fairly short paragraph in the center of a page in a 1918 National Geographic Magazine, an issue dedicated to the Dog, Man's Best Friend. The issue addressed their history, their role in man's success as a species, their role in daily life in towns and on farms, and especially their courageous roles during World War I.  it also addressed some 'bad' dogs, but appropriately placed the blame for that on humans.

The short paragraph alluded to this this general beginning of the Man-Dog relationship.  Armed with this snip of paper in my father had said I should use it someday for one of my Toastmaster speeches...I accomplished one of the best ad libs of my life.  During a speech contest, I had advanced to district finals. I was to be the last speaker of four finalists.  The first speaker, the son of an evangelist who planned to follow in his father's footsteps, gave a most eloquent presentation of "A Baby's Smile". In the wings, the #3 speaker asked me, "What are we doing her?  The first speaker was blowing away the crowd of over 200. I looked at #3 and said, "I can't win with this speech, that's for sure."  My mind was racing. What do people like almost as much as babies?  DOGS! I remembered the little snip of paper in my wallet.  I remembered 2 or 3 very short stories addressing the loyalty, courage and intelligence of dogs.  I could not possibly memorize the paragraph....but I could explain it as my inspiration and read it.  As I began my speech, I picked 3 people in the crowd to use as 'barometers' of listener response. One was an old farmer. He was weathered and tan and had hands like hams. He was not a Toastmaster, but his wife was. She had dragged him along. He looked uncomfortable in his suit, probably prefering overalls.  As I related the stories, I could see his involvement.  During the 3rd little story, I saw him wipe the corner of his eye and touch his wife's hand. He had had dogs in his life...some good ones too...some he still thought of occasionally and missed, I'm sure. When I summed the speech with the reading of the paragraph from National Geographic, I saw him squeeze his wife's hand - hard. I'm sure he thought he was whispering to her, but half the room heard him as he openly sobbed and said, "My dog would do that.  My dog would do that."  People all over the room were apparently affected by his response, as were the judges.  The dogs won that day.

Not long after The Beginning,
There were Animals and there was Man.
A great chasm lay between, that legend said
Only a Leap of Faith could span.
Animals seemed happy on their side;
For, after all, such a leap could not be done
“Make the best it,” they all said;
All, that is, but one.
There stood Dog, alone upon the brink,
The distant Man’s reflection shining in his eyes;
Something was robbing Dog of peace;
Something was urging him to try.
Compelled, he stood and stared,
Nothing could distract his gaze.
Now and then, Horse would come;
Each time, the same old words to say.
“I understand.  I really do.
I admit it.  I’ve thought about it too;
But it’s too far for me to jump,
It’s certainly too far for you”.
One day, as Horse spoke his words,
Cat rudely interrupted with a sneer.
“Go ahead and try.  You’ll break your silly neck.
You can’t go there.  Your place is here”.
More resolute now, his vigil became duty;
Still, he often wondered, “Why?”
But something deep inside kept saying,
“You must.  You must.  It’s do…or die”. 
Then, one day, he turned and walked away.
Oh, yes, he’d need a running start.
He knew now, he had the Will;
But only a Leap of Faith could prove his Heart.

Just before he made his Leap of Faith,
Dog saw the loneliness in Man’s eyes.
“He needs a friend, someone to help 
And always stand right by”.
With those unselfish thoughts,
Dog had reason, he felt whole.
And well he should, for at that very moment,
God granted Dog a Soul!
But Souls don’t come so easy,
And his leap was short that day.
If Dog was to make a Leap of Faith,
Man would have the final say.
Dog’s faith was truly tested, front paws upon the edge.
He hoped  Man’s eyes hadn’t lied. 
Then Man’s Heart swelled and touched his Soul.
He helped Dog up and placed him proudly at his side.
Oh, so jealous was Cat I’m told;
His eyes turned green that day.
“Oh, you are an heroic mutt; 
A friend of Man, you say?
I’ll make that leap by myself.
You can bet, I’ll find a way”.
So, Dog had made the Leap of Faith.
He and Man became Best Friends.
So it shall be, for all eternity;
That is to say, until the Very End.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2014

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