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Carrying Calvin



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His tongue looked dry. It hung out of his mouth like a limp banana peel. I watched with concern as it sluggishly rose and fell with each panting breath he took.

His eyelids were droopy too. They seemed unable to lift themselves. And that was only his face!

His body seemed cemented to the ground, his legs and feet completely immobile. Only his ribs moved rhythmically as he heaved.

We called his name, whistled, pleaded with him, offered him cookies, and made fools of ourselves. But despite our embarrassing efforts, my mother and I just couldn’t get my cocker spaniel, Calvin, to budge.

Earlier that day my mother, Calvin, and I had hiked all around Yosemite National Park. Though the large trees provided adequate shelter from the squelching sun, our constant exertion had made us sweaty and tired.

We’d trudged up Bridalveil Fall, following a path that twisted through the evergreens. Calvin had seemed so energetic. As he’d bounded along the trail ahead of us, his black hair had waved lightly in the breeze. He’d almost appeared to be flying.

Unlike my happy dog, I’d been growing visibly tired. The end must be around that corner, I’d thought every time we came to a bend in the trail.

As the sun drifted closer to the horizon, my feet had begun to ache. Soon they were throbbing. When will it end? I’d thought. When will this wretched trail end?

Just when I’d thought my legs would surely give out unless I sat down, Calvin’s did instead. He halted in midstride and lay down in the middle of the path.

We coaxed and swooned for more than 10 minutes.

“Come on, puppy love,” my mother crooned.

“Yeah, let’s go, boy.” I hoped he’d comply.

“Just a little farther, precious.”

“This way! Let’s go!”

It was no use. Calvin lay there staring at us, his weary eyes mocking our lame attempts to motivate him.

I knew what I had to do. Placing my thumbs beneath his front legs, I lifted him to my chest, adding his 15 pounds to my own weight for the last few miles of the hike.

Shortly after dusk we finally arrived back at Park Village. I’d never felt so overjoyed to see our car.

Of course, once Calvin saw all the other park visitors and his opportunity to get their attention, he leaped from my arms, suddenly cured of his lethargic spell.

“I carried him all that way!” I whined, hoping my mother would chase my revitalized mutt.

“He’s your dog,” she quickly reminded me.

After one last groan, I chased after him.

Sleep came quickly that night. But before I drifted off into slumber, I thought of how, like Calvin, I often have too much to do and the road of life seems too long. In those times I take comfort in knowing that I have a Savior who will carry me.

The psalmist says, “As the deer [or dog] pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1). I know that when my tongue is dry, my eyelids are drooping, and my legs feel useless, I can drink from the stream of life and sleep in the arms of Jesus. 

 

This story originally appeared in the May 25, 2002, issue of Insight. At that time Scott Damazo was 19 and a public relations major at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. His home was in Atlanta, Georgia.

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