Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent, TEC, and Julian

"God, in your goodness, give me yourself. For you are enough for me, and may I not ask anything that is less, that may be fully worthy of you. For if I ask any thing that is less, I am left always wanting. Because only in you, have I all."
-Julian of Norwich
I had the wonderful privilege of being on a TEC retreat this weekend with 100+ beautiful kids and adults who were NOT left wanting. Experiencing the strong sense of community that happens when we are united in our experience of God's goodness set me up nicely for the start of Lent this week. Lent is so often understood as a time of sackloth and ashes, the purpose of which seems to be to punish ourselves for our perceived unworthiness of God's unconditional love.  I can't help but see it differently after all that I experienced this weekend, and the strong connection I still feel to the community we formed. 
Lent, as I reflect on Julian's quote above, I think is more about reflecting on the times we "ask for the things that are less...and leave us always wanting." When we come to a more mindful awareness of the time we waste on these things, we quite naturally begin to seek out God and ask only: "give me yourself, for you are enough for me." To take it even a step further, when we seek this in the common bond of a community, and unite ourselves in offering up the same things (ex. giving up fish on Fridays) I think our experience of God's goodness is accelerated, and we are more deeply connected to one another on a spiritual level as well.
There is truly nothing I appreciate more in life than sharing with others the reality that in God, we truly have all :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Dog's Purpose

I've gotten this forward a couple times before and ignored it. For some reason it hit me today though. Some forwards are definitely worth a share (and a couple tears)...this one, I number amongst them.
Animals have so much to show us about how to live. But first, we must slow down long enough to take notes (:

A Dog's Purpose
(from a 6-year-old)

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.