The Spiritual Vignette is a short sketch of an encounter with God, often in a surprising, always lasting, way.


I loved taking my piano lessons when I was a girl. What I did not love was the walk from my house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to my piano teacher’s home several blocks away. That is because there was a large dog at a house in-between. He stood on his porch, barking and snarling, as I walked by.

What if he leapt from the porch? My eight-year-old mind feared the worse. There was nothing stopping him from doing so. He would bite me. He would knock me down. Again and again. I wouldn’t be able to get away.

The fear inside of me grew each week, until one day I didn’t even want to go to my lesson. But my piano teacher was expecting me, so I walked out of my front door, turned toward my teacher’s house and began to pray. “Lord, help me get by there.” Over and over I said this prayer until I came to the house where the dog was. He was lying on the porch. He watched as I walked by. He never made a sound. He did not move.

Now more than a half century later, I can still picture that dog. I can still feel the fear that I had walking by that house. More importantly, I remember what happened that day the dog was silent. I knew at that moment I was not alone. I knew I would never be alone.

I think of that dog and the answer to my prayer all the time. I say that prayer all the time––“Lord, help me get by here.”

That prayer has carried me through so much––the ending of my first marriage in divorce, raising my son as a single mother, working as a teacher in city schools where the students’ needs were more than I could meet. The prayer has helped me support loved ones facing critical illnesses and devastating troubles. It has helped me keep my faith when the burdens of my own life felt overwhelming.

That prayer has made a huge difference in my life. Where would I be, I wonder, if it were not for that dog?

Dianne Ebbs