By Renaissance Girl
I’ve always been intrigued by the verse in Genesis that says, “but there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.” It puts this beautiful image in my mind of the Garden of Eden, colors alive with newness, in full bloom, and a fine mist hovering over it all catching the light. (I wonder if God gave a sneak preview of his rainbow).
I was up before the sun this morning — working on a project until it was time to take my dog out. I went a slightly different route than normal and arrived at the harbor around 6:30. The sun had just barely left the horizon, and was splashing the water with streaks of pink and gold. I stopped and my dog sat quietly. I turned my head to look towards the end of the harbor and there it was. Rising up from the water was a fine layer of mist, gently moving with the currents of air and rising to follow the sun. And, somehow, I felt some of my anxieties of the day lifting with it.
By Renaissance Girl
I was working on a project the other morning — one that involved keeping careful count of an item, and therefore required my full concentration.
My dog was with me, quietly hovering just on the edge of my circle of focus . . . except for his insistent repetition of dropping his tennis ball on a box in front of me, or at my feet, and then backing up expectantly, waiting for me to catapult it into the air so he could give chase. He’d pull back and wait for a minute, then, if he did not get the desired response, he’d snatch it up again and drop it an inch away (as if maybe just a slightly different location would inspire a better result). We’d had our play time so I ignored him while I finished up.
But at some point he pulled my focus away from my task and onto his face, his ears alert, jaw twitching, and wide brown eyes full of confident and hopeful expectancy — truly believing if he just kept at it, eventually I’d turn his way and kick the ball — which I did.
And it hit me — here was an image of our relationship with God — or perhaps what it should be. Not that He ignores us, but sometimes the answer doesn’t come in the time I want it to. Too often I quit and simply walk away from the ball — or maybe snatch it back in frustration and sulk — or tear it to pieces. But maybe the point — and the work — is to stay in the constant state of hope and expectancy, believing that the answer WILL come — and poised and ready to spring after it with all joy.
“Even the dogs”
In 2007, I had the privilege of being part of a group of four cantors who spent the entire summer studying chant with Mary Berry in Cambridge, England. Dr. Berry taught us much about chant, and welcomed us as part of her family which included her dogs, Kai and Tien.
Never one to miss an opportunity to teach chant through daily life, Dr. Berry would chant an ancient Gregorian grace before meals. On the surface, that did not seem a particular surprise. However, what made that chant memorable were the dogs, Kai and Tien. It made no difference where the dogs were or, even what time it was. All Dr. Berry had to do was begin this simple and child-like little chant, Benedicite, and the dogs “came-a-running!” Their faces expressed a level of joy that made us all howl in laughter – just like Kai and Tien. Dinner time was a time to rejoice and they knew it!
I will never forget the beaming look in Dr. Berry’s eyes as she gave each dog their treat after they dutifully sat through the remainder of the chant. This was one of Dr. Berry’s favorite ways to show that all creatures – even the dogs -had a joyful response to the loving voice of their Master!
Cartoon of St Philip’s Schola © Kath Walker 2011
By Renaissance Girl
My dog started a fight with another dog yesterday. It was completely my fault. I was outside with some friends and took him off his leash to let him roam around while we talked. I didn’t even see the other dog coming — but he did. It happened so fast and I didn’t stand a chance of grabbing him. Eventually I did and thankfully, there were no major injuries — but my heart was pounding for a long time.
I don’t understand why my dog doesn’t like this other dog — he has no reason but their greetings are never friendly. So I Googled the question, “what makes dogs aggressive towards certain other dogs.” The first page to come up was Cesar Millan’s website. I have such respect and admiration for him, so I opened the article hopefully. Actually, he didn’t specifically address the question I asked, but this phrase caught my eye. “You need to become the dog’s pack leader and establish rules, boundaries, and limitations. You need to fulfill the dog as Nature intended him to be fulfilled.” I don’t think about my dog being “fulfilled” but it stuck with me. In talking it through later, I realized that, similar to parents with children, I buck against boundaries myself so I don’t like to require them of my dog. But, aside from putting him and others in a dangerous situation, it also leaves him unfulfilled, worried about filling a spot that shouldn’t be his to fill.
Maybe that’s how God sees us — he gives us structures and boundaries so we are relieved of the pressure to be someone we’re not, and can simply be who we are created to be, and thus fulfilled.
by Sr Nunother
Vulnerability is from the Latin word vulnerabilis, meaning capable of being physically or emotionally wounded; open, sensitive, yielding readily to. It’s a quality that eludes me and in searching for it, I found Dave the Poodle. He weighs about ten pounds, has a bad back and bad breath. These things do not inhibit Dave, who enters a room as if everyone has been waiting just for him. He’s available for whatever a day offers and keenly aware of his mission to love and protect one sister in particular. Dave has an aesthetic bent that, if he were a person, would surely lead to a vocation in the arts. And he’s not afraid to let it show (see picture below!) I see great generosity in Dave’s vulnerability. When I’m defensive, and I often am, I’m an emotional miser, unable to meet or even recognize the needs of others.
I found myself thinking back this morning to life as a child, when every holiday was filled with the potential to sleep in, spend all day doing nothing but “fun stuff” and end with a bang and hopefully a movie. I sit here this morning in the home I share with two friends and their families, and I find myself laughing at what happens when you don’t even notice. When did the desire to skip your nap become the desire to occupy the kids (or dog) so you can sit down for 5 minutes? When did the scheming to get out of chores become excited anticipation of those moments when everyone is out of the house and you can get some cleaning done? And, when does it happen that your greatest desire goes from jumping in the car and escaping to some far off playground with friends, to just having a few hours to be home?
What amazes me is that the joy is the same. As a child, you can’t imagine anything could be better then pizza and ice cream. Suddenly, five minutes with friends just sitting and talking, feels like a gourmet feast. Here, amid the mayhem and expectations of children on this holiday, I wonder what the day will hold and what unexpected pockets of joy will be discovered.
by Sr Nunother
Rise and shine – a simple directive that’s very convicting. I contrast myself with Liberty the poodle. She greets each morning with full body stretches that communicate, “Wow, what a great new day!” She likes her chin scratched while stretching and provides a “fangy” smile of approval. Next on her agenda is a brisk before breakfast walk.
My awakening is either sluggish or anxiety propelled. I deal with thoughts that something dreadful could happen or am annoyed at the world and everyone in it. Is it residue from an unremembered bad dream? Unresolved conflict from the day before? Or merely a habit that allows me temporary control (albeit of a negative sort.)
One of us trusts in the goodness of God and is content; the other needs a little shine in their rising.