One of my most vivid memories of growing up in Stuart, was befriending Lucifer. Lucifer was a Great Dane that lived in the neighborhood. In the 1970s, many dogs roamed free, some of the time anyway….
Lucifer was an amazing creature and he scared the daylights out of us kids. But we would taunt him too. Sometimes, when there was nothing to do, which was most of the time, we would walk outside when our parents were not looking and call “Lucifer….Lucifer….” and this huge, galloping, horse-like dog, with giant teeth and saliva dripping from his lips, would come running out of the bushes—and what would we do? We would smile and start running ourselves!
We would run, and run, and run with Lucifer at our backs, us shrieking, eyeing one another in anticipation of a fall to the earth. And then, if we were lucky, we’d make it to the jungle gym. And there, we would climb to the highest level and look down on Lucifer, as he barked and jumped and tried to climb the jungle gym himself.
It was great fun for us, but not so much for Lucifer…
Somewhere along this journey in St Lucie Estates, a stone’s throw from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I realized I was being mean. That Lucifer had not given himself that name, nor had he asked to look so scary. He was just trying to play. I eventually got down off the jungle gym and befriended him. This took time. He was my height and barked and ran around a lot. He jumped on me and knocked me down. But over time, we trusted each other, and then it became my job to keep him from being tortured by the other kids. I took great pleasure taming this wild creature that we kids had called to kill us….this gave me power in the neighborhood kid hierarchy.
Is there a metaphor here for our river? I don’t know, but I looking through the old family photo album my mother gave me and upon reading the headlines this morning, I felt inclined to share this story today.
May we remember that names are given, and that we are really just grown-up kids, and that the power is in taming Lucifer.