I don't know of a better teacher, of an understanding attitude, than personal experience. You know, the `been there, done that' kind of understanding. There are a lot of things in life that I do not understand, but then again, there is much that doesn't require understanding. The world is full of people who need someone who will understand and the following story is a wonderful example.

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 20 pups. He set about nailing the sign to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.

"Mister," he said, I want to buy one of your puppies." "Well," said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat from the back of his neck, "These puppies come from fine parents and cost a great deal of money." The boy dropped his head for a moment, then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. "I've got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?"

"Sure" said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle, "Here, Dolly!" he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.
The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball of fur appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then, in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up.

"I want that one," the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said, "Son, you don't want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would."

With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.

Looking back at the farmer he said, "You see sir, I don't run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands."

I think it was in the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi that he asks... "that I may not so much seek to be understood - as to understand." At least for today, I hope you and I can focus on understanding the wants and needs of whoever is put onto our path. The world will be a better place when we do.

Sally Saulitis is a retired addiction counselor who has been a resident of Hesperia for eight years.