A Small Dog

A long time ago I came across a Charles Shultz quote that has stuck with me: Speak Softly and Carry a Beagle. Anyone who has read Shultz or seen the Peanuts cartoons on television will know that this reference is to a very special dog called Snoopy.

Now that I have the internet, I don’t have to hunt through my overcrowded bookshelves and try to find the original source. Imagine my surprise to discover that this wasn’t some randomly remembered phrase, but the title for a series of Shultz’s comic strips in the ’70s. 

I used this quote when I was working on my 2017 year long research project for my degree. I was looking at different strategies people can use to improve their mental health. The terms “Blue” and “Black Dog” are commonly used now to talk about depression without having to use the dark word. As I worked my way through some dark texts, I often thought about the Schultz character Snoopy. 

Here are a couple of links, if my writing has been a trigger for you

One of my earlier attempts to draw Snoopy from memory.
I am not confident at realistic drawing, but I am getting good at capturing enough of the characteristics that other people can see what I am referencing.

When I am feeling Blue and especially when the Black Dog is snapping at my heels,  I step out into my world with my equivalent of the Small Blue Dog (Charles Schultz, see above link). I have used Snoopy GIFs and Stickers on Facebook to remind me. Then someone gifted me a sparkly one to carry around with my handbag.

Sometimes I swap out the word Beagle and replace it with Small Dog…  This makes a good learning opportunity for me to consider what is happening in my life.

It takes a lot of courage to publicly admit that I have days when the darkness is stronger than the light. Surely having been a Christian for four decades has raised me above such a worldly condition? No! As a Christian, I come to my faith journey with all the ordinary things that beset non-Christians. The difference is that I am never alone in the darkness.

This image is from my Wounded Paper series of digital drawing and text experiments.
I began by taking photos of paper
that had been irreparably damaged.
For a writer, the idea that the page
upon which I write can be
pierced, ripped, shredded
is a significant visual reference for trouble.

I write my stories faster than I can type. My brain sends the signals to my fingers and sometimes I stumble. These typos can be enlightening. I mention God a few times in my stories – my heroines and heroes are all on a discovery journey. So it isn’t uncommon for my clumsy fingers to type doG instead of God. Can you see where I am heading with this?

Now God has something to say about what seemed just a typing error. Sometimes, my inspirational quote appears on the screen as “Speak Softly and Carry a Small goD.”

Firstly, He wants to let me know that there is nothing small about Him. He created the universe and sustains it all without any effort. He can move mountains and perform miracles. I have seen evidence of this with my own eyes.

Then, He wants to talk about my carrying Him. There are two aspects of carrying. I carry His words and His presence into every situation, so when I am feeling Blue and when the darkness is pressing in on me, He is right there. I just have to open my eyes and look for the evidence of His presence.

The flip side of this relationship is that He has promised to carry me through every situation and bring me safely out the other side of every Valley of Shadows experience (Psalm 23).

During the week I came across the following quote hidden in my backlog of personal email subscriptions. 

“If we tend our garden, we’ll have plenty of food with which to feed others. If we give our garden just cursory attention, we may have enough to feed just ourselves. If we completely neglect our garden, we’re going to be so hungry we’ll become “consumer” Christians, feeding off of others.” 
Gary L. Thomas, from Sacred Pathways, accessed through FaithGatewayToday Newsletter, 28/10/2018. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56522.Sacred_Pathways

I am very passionate about my writing adventure. I want to write lots of stories. My heroines and heroes face great challenges, but I want them to be able to stand confidently at the conclusion. They need to be strong and secure. If I am to achieve this for my characters, then I need to make sure that I am also strong and secure. Today, I am going on with the journey. I will speak softly, and look for opportunities to be carried by my Big God )i(