Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
Ralph Hawk speaks: A few weeks ago I promised you what I consider a well written chapter from my friend F. John Surells.
DOG BARKING IN THE DISTANCE
Written By: F. John Surells
Recently, in the evening of a mid-week summer day, I sat at home alone with certain
windows opened, and attempted to compose an essay, or whatever one might wish to term one’s
analysis of the words of someone who evidently wished his “outlooks on life” to be accepted by
what he termed the “common man.” And I didn’t know then that I necessarily believed all his words
had told me, or that I could actually subscribe to his various societal theories. Nonetheless, I had
just finished reading them, and as per an assignment, had now begun “critiquing” them.
And suddenly then, in the midst of some sort of intense philosophical concentration in
which my thought process had been taken captive by the words I’d just read, I heard a dog barking
in the distance. And I don’t know that this event is even worthy of the ink and paper I’m using to
relate it, but that sound, produced by man’s so-called “best friend,” startled me then. It took me
aback! And suddenly my momentary thoughts were wrenched from their current focus, and were set
upon an animal either probably calling or complaining somewhere removed from me - somewhere
slightly distant, beyond my sight, if indeed I could have seen it anyway through the darkness - but
not so distant that its plaintive pleas exceeded my range of hearing and contemplation.
And oh, what haunting sounds those were! They broke the stillness of the quiet moment
which had existed within the peacefulness of what had previously been a quiet world. And I’ll
remember them always now as a time frame which came to me from out of the darkness of night,
and reigned then as the greatest influence upon whatever may have been in my thoughts at that time.
And yes, I suppose my thoughts had been significant then. They’d concerned a way of life
offered mankind for either its acceptance and dedication to, or, its rejection and dismissal of.
But yet, I fear I’ll be left now with an everlasting memory of the events I’ve just described.
And it seems so strange how apparently meaningless occurrences can seize one’s consciousness
sometimes - and startle one’s soul!
And yes, the dog barking in the distance forced upon me the acknowledgement of how
“live” life really is. And I realized then, that though we must all surely know of life’s “aliveness,”
seldom are the moments we take to ponder the mammoth relevance and importance of it!
But people, I’m just so overwhelmed now! And suddenly I’ve been forced to accept life’s
immediacy and fragility. Oh, and life’s so alive! Be careful - one careless movement of a wheel
might end it.
And now I also know of life’s delicacy. A few brief words said in anger or disrespect
might alter its course - as that course relates of course to the very real lives being lived within it.
And it’s so precious! And yes, I’ll let you “search your own soul” for all that implies.
But please, don’t mock me! Don’t think me immature, foolish, or paranoid; though I may be
one, two, or all three of those.
Instead, I wonder if you could pray with me the same prayer I uttered there that evening
when my focus was wrenched from its contemplation of mankind’s problems, and set then upon a
dog. Yes, let’s say it together. “God of the nighttime help me! I’m a student of the highway, and I
fear I’ve learned a significant lesson just now. Please keep me safe therefore until the sunshine You
send to Earth from Your realm where light is timeless, shines here again. And thereafter in that
light help me to apply as a new part of my existence what I’ve just become aware of tonight. And
may that new awareness then aid me as I seek to become a better person temporally, and a resident
of Your timeless light eternally.”