When my daughter was born,
my view of the world forever changed.
“To have a child is to decide to have your heart forever walk around outside your body.” (anonymous)
Life was no longer something I peered at
from a safe distance
I felt it deeply – glowing in my heart
Powerful, shifting emotions
forced me to realize how precious
and precarious life can be
Holding each of my grandchildren for the first time
intensified my sensitivity and commitment
to do all in my power to be a loving presence
Watching them as they grow
amplifies both joy and pain
celebrating their accomplishments
suffering when they encounter challenges
Sometimes all I can do is
to simply try to be a loving presence
In times such as these it’s not easy
to believe the future holds bright possibilities
Let our hearts awaken and glow
with celebratory joy
“Our planet is a lonely spark in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.
“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” (Carl Sagan, from “The best speech about humanity”)
When my beloved dog Cookie died, my heart was broken. We had weathered many challenges during our eleven years together. She survived many moves from her prairie home – to the northwoods, Rocky Mountains, and different Great Lakes region cities. I knew as we shared our last walk together in October of 2013 that no one else would ever take her place. I had no intention of ever adopting another dog. I hoped my grief would pass with time, but instead of diminishing, it only deepened.
By the end of October, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter went with me to see if I could find a larger female dog. (I’m sure I wrote about this adventure, but I can’t find the story anywhere.) When we entered the animal shelter to look, the first dog we saw was Pinto, then tiny, a Papillon/Chihuahua mixed-breed.
My granddaughter fell in love with him at first sight. Who wouldn’t? I promised her that we would walk him after we tried the two large female dogs that were waiting to be adopted.
I did walk the two larger dogs, Barbara and Ginger. They made me aware of my age and physical strength limitations. Both were powerful, spirited, and emotionally wounded. My daughter laughed heartily at the spectacle of me trying to control Ginger when she started jumping and tugging to avoid going back into the shelter. When I was eleven years younger, Cookie could pull me over and drag me. Ginger almost did the same in the animal shelter parking lot on her maiden walk.
“Maybe a smaller dog would be wiser,” I thought, so it was finally Pinto’s turn. And he was a joy. He didn’t jump and pull. He merely trotted proudly with his butterfly ears in constant, graceful motion and rolled over so my granddaughter could pet his belly. It wasn’t until I went to pick him up a couple of weeks later that the shelter listed his challenges. He had been abandoned so they knew very little about him except the health issues when he arrived and his behavioral challenges. Many of his teeth had to be removed because they were too badly infected to be salvaged. And he was too dangerous to be around children.
We’ve been together for a little over three years now. I’m glad to say it’s been months since we’ve had to deal with a feral incident. Because I’ve agreed to listen to his “no brushing my ears command,” his feral fits only happen occasionally over some forbidden outdoor “treat,” like rabbit or deer droppings or a twig that will be sure to make him choke. His timeout kennel is still in the living room just in case, although my special leather gloves for handling him have been repurposed for outdoor work.
He really is very gentle with my granddaughter.
I made a choice early on that accommodates my personality. I don’t like to fight or try to bend others to my will. With Pinto, I haven’t tried. I can only imagine why he’s so terrified when the grooming brush approaches in a gentle trusted hand. He snarls and fights for his life. I would rather be the safe person who gives him a place where he can sing even if he’s grown a little plumper and his lovely fur is a little dreadlocked. He really is a gifted singer.
The frozen image on the video clip above doesn’t do him justice.
I’m truly grateful for his mellowing presence in my life.
There are those who build walls and gated communities
to protect privileges and possessions
And there are those who courageously reach out
with compassion across borders that divide
to ease the suffering of others during desperate times
Protecting privilege comes with such a heavy cost
When will we realize the price is too heavy to bear?
It’s not me versus you, or us versus them We’re all on this earth together
Each one carries gifts too precious to squander
The title of this post comes from a song written by Si Kahn, “What You Do with What You’ve Got.” It was playing through my mind this morning. I know I’ve shared it before but it seems fitting to share it again.
The song and words of the poem above came to me this morning as I once again choked back tears after watching the video Bob Ramsak shared yesterday on Piran Café. I hope you will all visit his post to learn more about “4.1 Miles.”
A word of warning – The following video may break your heart.
Though our hearts break, may we all do what we can to continue reaching across differences to ease the suffering of others.
Once I was young, a mere sapling in this northern clime
nestled comfortably in the embrace of my soul mate
Our trunks touching, our roots and branches intertwined
We grew wide and tall gracefully trusting in our loving fate
Silent witnesses to so many changing times
We weathered frigid winters, autumn storms and summer drought
Blooming hopefully together each spring for almost a century
Now I stand alone, a silent sentinel filled with doubt
realizing in these changing times there is no certainty
pondering deeply what my life was really all about
I’ve watched children walking past me on their way to school
To many I was invisible though I gave them air to breathe and shade
Most were blessed with curiosity and light, but a few were dark and cruel
I sent them all loving energy because that’s just how I am made
I’ve seen the light dim in many over time because the darkest tend to rule
All I ask in the years that remain is for someone to hear my song
To gently touch my weeping branches and lovingly caress my aging frame
I’ll weather more storms but I know now it won’t be long
Please listen to the wind as it speaks through my leaves while I remain
Take time to stand silent beneath my protective shelter, strong,
at one with peaceful loving nature where we all belong
A welcoming space for resistance to the forces of oppression and hegemony.