February 2021 Archives

“Waiting in Expectation”

“Waiting in Expectation”

Jesus said to his disciples, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16).

Life is “a little,” a short moment of waiting.  But life is not empty waiting.  It is to wait full of expectation.  The knowledge that God will indeed fulfill the promise to renew everything, and will offer us a “new heaven and a new earth,” makes the waiting exciting.  We can already see the beginning of the fulfillment.  Nature speaks of it every spring; people [speak] of it whenever they smile; the sun, the moon, and the stars speak of it when [they] offer us light and beauty; and all of history speaks of it when amid all devastation and chaos, men and women arise who reveal the hope that lives within them. … What is my main task during my “little while”?  I want to point to the signs of the Kingdom to come, to speak about the first rays of the day of God, to witness to many manifestations of the Holy Spirit among us.  I do not want to complain about this passing world but to focus on the eternal that lights up in the midst of the temporal.  I yearn to create space where it can be seen and celebrated.  From Sabbatical Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lessons from a Dog

Lessons from a Dog

Two weeks ago, I adopted a dog.

Ten-years-old, she is a tri-color Tree Hound/Beagle mix. Found as a stray in Lewisburg, WV, she was brought to Hagerstown, MD, by an organization called For Otis Sake. The adoption agency felt she would have a better chance of finding a permanent home farther north where hounds are not “a dime a dozen.”

It has been over forty years since I owned a dog, Dolly, and seven plus years since I last had a pet—Mooch, a 26-pound ginger tabby cat, love blob. Both easily stole my heart and left me a broken mess when they made the journey across the ‘rainbow bridge.’

Polly is her name or at least the name given to her by her foster parents. I have asked Polly what her true name is—the one given to her at birth–but she has yet to confide in me.

She is super sweet, very gentle, a real cuddle bug; and oh, my goodness, she has the softest ears!

Oh, I have tried to teach her a few commands, but at 70 some in human years, she is pretty set in her ways—the quintessential “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” dog. In fact, I think I am learning way more from her than she is from me.

A heightened sense of smell makes life an adventure for her. As soon as we step outside for a walk, her nose immediately goes to ground, sniffing away. Tail wagging, butt waddling, she meanders back and forth across my path as we walk. Stubbornly stopping from time to time to do a nasal appraisal of what must be an intoxicating odor or determinedly tugging me forward because her snout caught a delicious distant scent; she is the walker and I the walkee.

I thought I lived in a relatively quiet neighborhood … that is until Polly moved in. Due to her keen hearing, I am now regularly alerted to apparent sounds and activities to which I either did not pay attention, took for granted or simply did not hear.

These notifications come in the form of howling, barking and baying. With hair literally standing on edge, head back, nose up, and craning neck, her warbles send me into hysterical fits of laughter. Once the perceived “danger” has passed, she puts her paws on my lap or at my waist and I tell her what a good girl she is as I gently and calmly stroke her ears and sides. Her wagging tail lets me know she is happy she protected me. She seized the moment—carpe diem!

Some of my favorite moments are when she is seated in my lap and leans back exposing her belly for a rub; or when I am crying, she is patiently and peacefully present with me. She is utter awareness.

What have I learned from her?

“… for in him we live and move and have our being …“ Acts 17:28

Of this mindfulness, she is my daily reminder

Whatever I do, wherever I go, all that I am, is IN awareness. At least I do the best I can to remain mindful of this most important precept because it is where everything begins and ends. There is no separation, only belief that I could be separate; that we could be separate.

Spending time with family or friends or in solitude; reading a book, baking cookies, doing chores; walking the dog, exercising, practicing yoga; watching the news, staying abreast of politics, social media; caring for the least, the last, the lost and the lonely; church activities, work, hobbies/sports; traveling, conversing, writing, praying, meditating … there isn’t anything we do that isn’t IN the Divine.

“Lo, I am with you always.”

“Waiting in Expectation”

The Bloodline of God

The bloodline of God is connected to everything . . . shells on the ocean shore, the mushrooms growing in the forest, the trees stretching to the clouds, the tiniest speck of snow in the winter, and our dust-to-dustness—we are all connected and tethered to this sacred gift of creation. —Kaitlin B. Curtice

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

W. Phillip Keller

“What have you been doing during the pandemic?” seems to be an oft ask question this last year. I have been reading … a lot. With a book shelf full of books to be read as well as e-books in my Kindle library, I am currently in the middle of about four or five.

The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher and Black and Buddhist by Pamela Ayo Yetunde are two I just finished. I am in the midst of A Promised Land by Barack Obama and Galaxy Girls by Libby Jackson as well as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky. Both of the latter may take me awhile. Pride and Prejudice because the language style is exquisite, like fine art, it must be savored; and Manufacturing Consent because its contents is so alarming.

Why read it then? Because I relish in the processes of exploration and self-reflection.

Sometimes I read to escape too.

Every once and a while I find a book that allows me to do all three which is what happened with A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. A truly lovely book about The Shepherd’s love.