Guide Seeing is Believing

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I knock on and identify with my cane the wooden sawhorse barriers placed in the crosswalk of this street to block any through traffic from entering the parade procession. My cane tap echoes the location of the upcoming curb, and I sweep for the wheelchair ramp on the other side. We three step up onto the next block, and Maggie stops after a few yards to sniff at a familiar spot. Ahead of me I hear a voice and with it several sets of footsteps. As the voice draws closer I realize that it is the voice of a man, and walking along beside and behind him are young people.

As the group passes, I exchange neighborly greetings perfunctorily because it's important that my primary focus remain on Maggie, who on occasion relieves herself at this spot and forces me to attend to my civic duty and pick up. How are ya? As the young people pass, I smile, but do not take my attention away from Maggie.

She is rooting in the grass at the end of her leash, like an Iowa hog, and snorting just as loudly. This informs me that she is not thinking of relieving but searching for edibles left over from the parade. I do believe that, if I ever spilled mustard or ketchup on her, she'd consume herself into nothingness and find a way of communicating with me spiritually to beg for something else to eat. I give Maggie a cursory leash tug, signaling her to come along, and the three of us are walking northwards again.

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I have the twin leashes in my left hand, my cane in my right. I always keep the dogs on my left, which has taken some patience and a lot of repetition to train into them. Obviously I cannot have one or both of them crossing in front of me to my right side to sniff, but sometimes they cannot resist. Dog feet are so cool, and especially Labrador duck-style feet.

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Most of the time the walk is smooth, but sometimes one dog or the other will try to stop or go too fast. Maggie is most often the culprit, but sometimes Snerdley sees a rabbit or cat, and he rockets ahead and will cross to my right side. But, when this happens, I simply stop, reattach my shoulder to its socket joint, and try to think of something other than the guilt I feel at restraining Snerdley from acting on his nature. I try to tell myself that I have equally disappointing experiences in my life, one being that Chipotle does not deliver to my house.

I know. You missed the rabbit. A twin portal blow through his dog nostrils is his way of dismissing me, I'm sure. The three of us have been walking together for five years now. Why doesn't he get his own? At present both dogs are pulling ahead strongly, both competing to be the first to capture the freshest inhalation of oxygen, and I pick up my own pace. The sidewalk beneath my feet soon begins to slope downward and informs me that we're approaching the end of this block.

I mentally throw my ears forward to the cross-street, the crosswalk, and I include the passing traffic on State Route 48 to my left as I shorten their leashes to bring them closer to me.

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Hearing nothing ahead of me, we cross this street without stopping and maintain our pace. It's a perfectly executed crossing; even the Olympic orientation and mobility Russian judges are pleased, and their scorecard displays a 9. For me it is just one of those days when alignment is Zen-like, no other people approach with dogs, and no remnant of parade food has been discarded in the crosswalk to distract my pack.

In this next block are the aluminum bleachers. They block the entire sidewalk, which is at least twice the width of your average suburban sidewalk path because it accommodates a very nicely cobbled-brick area surrounding a city bus stop and shelter. I am quite familiar with the parade bleacher setup because at least twice in the early years of my residency here I took a five foot nine-inch bleacher seat to my forehead, with my cane sweeping beneath and my ears and mind elsewhere.

I was either dreaming about Diane Sawyer's voice in my computer's next-generation synthesizer or perhaps thinking of eating a Frisbee-sized Wendy's double burger with everything. But today, in contrast to previous years when I took those headshots, I have stepped off the sidewalk well before the bleachers, and, along with the dogs, I walk up the sloping grass of the board of education lawn to go around the blockade.

Maggie, Snerdley, and I are heading directly for her until Maggie stops short to root at what I can only imagine is food droppings from parade-attendees. I shouldn't have distracted them. She's now sweep-sniffing and no longer rooting, which tells me she's not eating or about to eat.

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I worked with a black Labrador guide dog for many years and never did get used to this request. In it is both the acknowledgement that the dog must not be distracted and the dismissal of the admonition. I am attempting to avoid another guide dog conversation which, as dog guide users can tell you, is not an easy thing to do. Guide dogs attract interest and questions. Never mind that these are not guide dogs. Seeing is believing, and to this woman I have two canine assistants.

I cannot imagine how, with me clearly using my cane, the assumption is so often that these dogs are guides.

Isn't it just as likely that I am out collecting dogs, just four short of a sled-dog team? But my experience as a blind man has taught me that we see what we know, and that knowing is not the same as understanding. Knowing is good for multiple-choice tests and Jeopardy, but understanding has very little to do with memorization. We're cleaning up and are waiting for the trucks to remove the bleachers. Were you here for the parade? Jesus then exhorts them to be steadfast in their faith, and he provides a story to explain what he means.

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The servants were entrusted with the management of the household. No one knew just when the householder would return. Therefore, a wise servant would be ever vigilant, since the householder could return at any moment and would expect to find everything in order and awaiting his reappearance. If faith is not based on what is seen, then on what is it based? Its foundation is the trustworthiness of God, who has generously blessed these same people in the past. The author of the Book of Wisdom encouraged the people of his time by reminding them of how God had protected their ancestors as they escaped from Egyptian bondage.

Writing to his community of Christians, Luke recounts how Jesus instructed his followers to be steadfast in their faith in him. Like believers in the past, we too have been called to cling to the hope of a future that may seem too good to be true. Like believers in the past, we too are expected to be steadfast in our faith, even when we see no signs of its fulfillment.

Will we pass the test? This article also appeared in print, under the headline "Seeing Is Believing. Dianne Bergant, C.

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