A Whole New World of Greyhounds

This post begins a new series called: “Favorites of the Fall” and starts us off with post #1 on Greyhounds.

When I come home from the stresses, excitement, obligations, and due dates of the world, there are two wet noses atop each other waiting for me to push the door open a little further than a crack; I walk into wagging windshield wiper tails, half jumps, and chattering “excited” teeth. The face rubbing into my clothes commences and then we all rush to the door to see who can get out to the backyard-kingdom first.

Jack

Jack

This isn’t just any backyard, no, its got the perfect grass to chomp on when mom isn’t looking, a garden fence to pee on, and three whole compost bins to get good wiffs of rotting veggies.

The loyalty, love, and lavish attention I speak of here is just another day in the life of being a mom to greyhounds. When I worked in vet medicine, I met a few greyhounds who always caught my attention with their gentle demeanors and kind spirits. Though I wanted a dog for years, I kept saying, “I’ll wait till I am finished with school.” Nine years later, I am still in school; hence, I decided eight months ago that I would adopt a grey and that’s when Jack came into my life.He’s been so much fun and brought forth such joy that I began thinking about adopting a second retired racer.

In memory of Toby.

In memory of Toby.

This summer, the same week that my parents had to put down our beloved Pomeranian/ Shih Tzu mix “Toby,” another “Toby” appeared on the website of the amazing retired racer adoption group that I am a part of, Greyhound Pets of America – Nashville. “Toby” the grey was a senior who had been returned to the rescue and I couldn’t believe the timing. After meeting Toby, it was pretty clear that he should join the pack with Jack and he’s been the best addition to our home. He’s kind, delicate, cuddly, and just happy to be home.
Toby the Grey

Toby the Grey

If you are looking for a canine addition to your life, I would highly recommend considering adopting a retired racing hound from GPA-Nashville. They even have some hounds who currently need homes and you can check these fellas out here.

This is just another one of my fall favorites!

Advertisements

Accompaniment

I am constantly amazed at how dis-attached I feel from myself, others, and the earth when I do not live in rhythm with the seasons. The seasons are good teachers for us. They show us that change does come, that beauty –and hardship– is to be found in change. The winter is beautiful, but in a dormant kind of way. The spring is full of life it seems, but still brings a lethal frost. The summer draws us into long, enduring warmth but can overheat us in our epidermal exchange. The fall brings us more vivid colors than we could ever dream up by ourselves, but with the color comes death. The seasons remind us that death is a part of life, for it is as natural a cycle as any; without death, we would not have life. The seasons are reminders of the good gifts that the earth gives: the harvest, the sunsets, the rain, the protective layer of Ozone.

It is good to live into the change of seasons, to tarry with them in their ebb and flow.

All of life is dynamic. It must be dynamic to stay in equilibrium. For if it becomes static, it is dead.

Though there is little about life that is immune to change, relationships of all kinds can ground us to weather the change.

That friend who is ceaselessly present especially when you do not quite know how to go on. That lover who fills you with more joy than you thought possible. That parent, whether kin or by choice, who believes that you can do anything. That sibling whose relationship with you has evolved from rivalry to friendship. That grandparent who tells you stories of your heritage, stories they have lived with courage, joy, pain, and even regret. That neighbor who works to live in community with you. Those colleagues who you spend more time with than some of your family members….slowly, they become family.

It takes courage and commitment to sustain a table conversation with someone that lasts a lifetime. The novelty of the person, however you know them, wears off and so does yours for them. What is left is a deep, sustaining aura that draws you in. Somehow, they sing a song that is similar to your own, if you listen closely enough. “I believe in you”, “I love spending time with you”, “you can trust me”, they sing. They forgive you when your flaws and insecurities fester like gaping, infected wounds and you respond out of the pain. You forgive the same way. You share tables with them on the holidays or at least send loving well wishes.

These folks do not make change any easier or harder; they just commit, whether implicitly or explicitly, to do the change with you. You and they become seasoned travelers together on the journey of life.

I think this is the way that the Creator God designed it to be.

Accompaniment.

May it ever be so.

Fully Alive

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive”
― Saint Irenaeus

In a culture where we are all trying to figure this life out… trying to figure out how to live presently, to feel everything we need to feel in this moment, what does St. Irenaeus mean in saying “be fully alive?” Is it reaching a goal? Is it being completely present, in mind, body, and spirit, with the moment you are in? Does it mean that you are doing and living things that fully resonate with you? Does it mean that you are finding beauty even when your circumstances say there is none to be found? Does it mean you are living a life of consciousness and subsequently, activism? Or does it mean a little something different to everyone?

I wonder if God is most glorified when God’s creation is living passionately, with purpose and meaning. Navigating this world of pain, loss, scarcity, and betrayal, it seems like living fully alive is a miracle. Surviving is a miracle. Love is a miracle.

It takes courage to live fully alive. It takes vulnerability to show up. It takes gumption to go into a profession because you love it, not because it brings in sizable paychecks. To live simply when those surrounding you aren’t. To get off of your phone and give someone your full attention. To go down a path that no one else understands, but you know it is the path which resonates with you. It’s the way your intuition is guiding.

How do you care about your brother and sister when it’s all you can do to look out for yourself and your family? When it’s all you can do to survive?

Maybe fully alive means this. That when certainty is evasive and you aren’t promised that you’ll be taken care of… you aren’t promised your health… you aren’t promised your finances… you show up anyway. You show up and you bring a glass of water to your neighbor. You keep painting, keep writing, keep studying, keep singing. You go into ministry even when the church is declining. You say “I love you” first even when you don’t know if the one you are in love with will say it in return. You advocate for equality even though you know people see your actions as heretical. You call your kid who has broken your heart, just to tell her how much you love her. You choose to believe you can do the thing others have said you can’t.

In the ambiguous fear, in the uncertainty, and most of all, in the skepticism,

You show up.

And you breathe the breath of being fully alive. Glory be to God.

Tell me a story of how you showed up.

Lessons from the Playground

How often do we learn the most from the least likely to teach us?

This week I had the joy of being able to take my little 6 year old friend out for a girls day. She is, by far, one of the coolest people I know. Having had a fun day of shopping and eating, we decided to make our way to the local playground. Now this isn’t just any playground, it’s a super-charged playground with several yards of various colorful apparatuses to conquer.

As she began to climb the castle, she stopped in her tracks when coming to a roped feature that connected the two towers. The flooring had ended and the roped webbing became the route in which she had to tread to continue her conquest of the castle. She decided that this feature was too scary and not worth the fear it created. She gave up and turned around. She did this several times at various spots on the playground. I could see she was missing out on a lot of fun, but all she could see is that this was a giant obstacle that was too scary.

Eventually, we came to a rather frightening spiral ladder… the ladder was tilted, making it a slightly more difficult ladder to climb than your average ladder. Because of her short stature, she couldn’t see what was beyond the ladder, but I could. And I knew that she’d want to partake in what fun awaited her at the top. To my amazement, she left the ground and began the ascent. She made it about 3 seconds before telling me this was too scary and asking me to help her down.

Now if I thought she couldn’t make it, by all means, I would’ve given in and lifted her down. But I knew she could do this thing that scared her.

At this moment, I wanted to tell her so many things. I wanted to tell her that life was messy and hard and, at many times, scary. I wanted to tell her that fear would be a frequent visitor and would tempt her into taking the easy, safe way out. I wanted to tell her that giving into fear is not the way to life… it’s not the way to joy– or intimacy– or vulnerability.

I wanted to tell her about the evil that has come from people motivated by fear. The racism, the discrimination, the hate. I wanted to tell her the mistakes people make because of fear. I wanted to tell her about the amazing things people miss out on because they give up out of fear.

I wanted to tell her all of these things. I even wanted to lift her off the ladder so she wouldn’t have an unpleasant experience. But I didn’t.

Because here’s a secret I’ve been learning… a pleasant life is not always a rich life.
The safeness and steadiness quickly wear off and give way to superficiality and boredom.

Instead, I stood behind her… close to her… and I told her that I just knew she could do it. I told her that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her. I told her that we’d work through this together.

After a moment, she decided that she could take just one more step, which turned into another and another. I let her inch along. Finally, she made it to the top. She was ecstatic. She was empowered. “Oh Kate, I am Merida from Brave“, she yelled. “Yes, you are… you always were,” I replied.

Having completed this feat, she began attempting other playground equipment that scared her. And before long, she had free reign of the playground. As the sun set, I could see joy radiating from her.

And once again I realized, life lessons are often learned from the least likely to teach us.