Thursday, May 27, 2010


This morning, while I was out hanging up the laundry, Dusty the Church Dog was rolling around on his back, soaking up the dew, a look of such delight on his face that I was jealous.  Later, as we stretched our legs in the neighborhood before our lunch, he sat down at one point, sticking his nose in the air, giving great big sniffs, and I swear he was wearing a big grin.  Then, when we got back to the church, and I let him off the leash, he raced around and around the back yard, doing his 'laps', ears flapping in the wind, and then falling exhausted on the ground.

On the other hand, I grumble, mumble and stumble any time I have to do yard work - telling myself in advance how much my back will hurt after lugging around the bags of mulch and topsoil; how bumpy the yard is going to be even before I get the mower out; cursing the weeds that seem so much more persistent and patient than any thing I try to grow.

All around me, God has planted a garden of wonder called creation - dew that is as sweet as any beverage a vintner has devised, delicious odors of flowers that can tickle my nose if I but take the time to inhale; blue skies that stretch beyond the horizon, dotted with schooners of clouds sailing off into the distance.

Daily, it could be my delight.

Dusty has this amazing ability to connect with anyone (and any thing) he encounters.  There are no strangers in his world, only people who have come to play with him (even though they thought they were coming to deliver something to the house or to the church).  Every child is someone who needs to be loved, whether it is with a sloppy kiss on their faces, or the gentle acceptance of their hugging him as tight as they can.  Every older person is that individual who needs his head placed tenderly on their lap, his big brown eyes staring up at them, focusing only on them, silently telling them that, for that moment and in that place, they are the only person who matters to him.

On the other hand, I stumble to the door to answer it, aggravated because my favorite TV show has been interrupted; I mumble at the kids who are sitting on the sidewalk, drawing fantastic pictures from their imagination, while I have to step around them to get to my truck; I grumble a quick 'good evening' to my retired neighbor who is out watering his yard, thirsty for a conversation about the ball team he loves so much, while I rush to get in the house and shut the door on the world.

Jesus has placed an incredible community of folks all around me.  There are kids who look at every adult who comes near them, wondering to themselves if this is the one who might treat them as a person, not an inconvenience.  There are folks who are lonely, so desperate for a kind word that they would pay cash for it; there are those who are suffering, and find themselves reduced to an account number at the doctor's office; there are neighbors who could be my best friend, if I only stopped long enough to say hello.

Daily, they could be my delight.

Whoever came up with the phrase 'dumb animal' never met Dusty.  He knows that the best way to get through any day is to take a nap every two hours, drink plenty of water, clean his food dish every time it is filled (and clean my cereal bowl when I am done in the morning), walk at least two times a day for at least 30 minutes each time, get up and get one of his stuffed animals or tennis ball out of his basket and start playing with it when the news on the TV is rotten, go to sleep at the same time every night and sleep straight through the night (except if thunderstorms come along, then you cuddle up tight to whoever is in the bed), never mess with any creature that has claws, and always remain optimistic that this is the day, this is the walk, this is the time when that squirrel will not get to the tree in time!

In the father who is picking up his kids after school and in the mom who is coaching her daughter's soccer team; in the legal aid lawyer who is defending the rights of the homeless and in the social worker who shares her lunch with the woman forced to raise her grandkids when she thought she would be traveling around the world; in the teenager who spends her weekends putting together health kits to send to Haiti and in her little brother who mows lawns each day, to save up money to give to her when she goes off to college this fall, Wisdom whispers to me all the things that I might ever need to know, if I was but to listen.

Daily, she could be my delight.

In every moment, in every person, in every place, the Holy Community dances around and around, whirling in joy, laughing in wonder, spinning round and round, holding out their hands to me, inviting me to join them - daily to be their delight, as they long to be mine.

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman


stinuksuk said...

Isn't it amazing, the wisdom of dogs and all we learn from them?
Thanks for your piece, so true and reminded me to look around and not just pass by.

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