The Hound Scan
Marcy has cancer — at least that’s what the medical gurus say. It began, most likely, as a small tumor in breast tissue and has expanded to lymph nodes, liver cells and other places identified by scans named after animals. Now her life is all about the Hound scan.
We thought about the Hound, 22 of us standing around Marcy, our hands outstretched to touch her diseased body as we celebrated her commitment to the Hound who has caught her and made her His own.
Though the “Hound” is never mentioned in Scripture, He is the reason for each of its verses. First described by Francis Thompson in his 1893 poem, this family friend is known by other names such as Jesus, the Christ, Redeemer, Elder Brother, Son of God, Messiah and Grace — all synonyms for the Hound of Heaven.
J.F.X. O'Connor, in his 1912 treatise on the poem, described the Hound's work this way: “As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure, forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit."
Marcy’s been caught. For long she’s been His, finding pleasure in His embrace and in the “deliberate speed” of His chase.
During the Friday evening hour we spent with Marcy, each of us recited a verse of Scripture to remind both the “Hound” and Marcy of how eager He has been to catch her and use her as His voice, as His arms of love and as His voice of encouragement. Often, it seems, He has even used her to help chase down others who needed catching.
You will quickly recognize some the verses we chose:
- Jer. 29:11 — For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for good things, not bad. Plans to bring you a future filled with hope.
- Psalm 103:17 — God’s love is everlasting. Never-stopping. Continuous.
- Psalm 23:1 — The Lord is my Shepherd. I lack nothing.
- Is. 40:29–31 — He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
- John 3:16 — God loved Marcy so much that He sent His Son to chase her down, capture her with His love and bring her home.
Marcy’s CAT scan shows cancer. Ugly. Active. Devouring.
Marcy’s PET scan shows it even more clearly. Body parts turned traitorius.
Marcy’s HOUND scan shows something more, something deeper, something irresistible. Its clarity is far more meaningful than the miraculous visions of modern medicine. It shows Marcy — caught in the safety of God’s grace, enmeshed in the net of His love, safe in the Shepherd’s arms, alive in a future defined by Hope.
Francis Thompson’s poem of 182 lines, filled with hard to understand old English adjectives, is remembered more for its title than the details of its content. The Hound of Heaven never stops chasing.