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Rector's Reflection for Jan 11, 2013

posted Jan 11, 2013, 5:53 PM by Terry Brady   [ updated Jan 11, 2013, 5:53 PM by Parish Administrator ]

"A sense of Mystery can take us beyond disappointment and judgment to a place of expectancy. It opens in us an attitude of listening and respect. Mystery requires that we relinquish an endless search for answers and become willing to not understand. That we be open to witness. Those who witness life may eventually know far more than anyone can understand." Rachel Naomi Remen,  My Grandfather's Blessing; An Almanac for the Soul

When I read the meditation above, I immediately thought of Abelard: not the theologian, but the dog.  Abbie was Mark's dog and he taught me two great spiritual lessons.   

Lesson 1) Transformation is possible.  When I first met Abbie, he was the mangiest, smelliest cur I'd ever encountered.  A stray, bearing obvious signs of abuse, he happened to start digging through the garbage behind the apartment house where Mark and his roommate lived Stephen lived.  Unable to turn his back on the scrawny, shivering mess, Stephen elected to bring the dog in, fix him up, and "find him a home."  The dog became Abelard, and, because Stephen had cats, Mark's room eventually became Abbie's home. I watched Abbie change; he became a different dog before my eyes.  It wasn't just the nourishment and the medical care that made him look better (though that was certainly a part of the change); it was also the confidence, the openness, the affection that blossomed in him.  Those attributes did not seem possible in the skittish, untouchable dog I first met.  Few days went by when I didn't look at Abbie and think, "Who would have thought?" 

Lesson 2) Curiosity is the secret to joy.  It was clear to all of us that Abbie had suffered at the hands of people.  It took a long time before he would even let us touch his head from above.  But from, the very beginning, we would always catch him checking us out.  He would sneak up and sniff us: our coats, our shoes, our hands.  I used to try and imagine all of the things his nose was telling him about each new thing he wanted to check out.  And Abbie wanted to check everything out.  He looked forward to his daily walks with uncontained excitement.  Even though we walked the same route every day, Abbie was always dancing with expectation, curious about what had changed, wondering what had happened in his absence.  He explored everything like it was his first time being there.  Even when his kidneys started to fail and walking was difficult, Abbie refused to give up his walk or even shorten it.  There was just too much possibility to explore. 

On my faith journey, I have often found myself stymied by my desire for knowledge and understanding.  Abbie taught me the importance of openness and expectancy.  And the more I'm willing to live into the "not knowing," "not understanding" part of life, the more I find myself actually living.