December 13, 2010

Lessons From a Lame Dog

This morning it's not so cold for once, and there seems to be a pause in the rain, so I decided to walk to my little Monday-morning Mass at the Poor Clare monastery. It's about a half-hour at a contemplative pace, and I really enjoy the quiet and the light of early morning.

By the time I begin to walk back home at 7:30 or so, the rest of the world is awake. Today I saw a curious sight. A man was walking his dog. The dog, to make up for back legs that were useless and lame, was in a harness that had two wheels. He was like a funny little cart, with legs instead of front wheels.

At first it struck me as quite the pitiful sight. But then I observed the dog's expression; he seemed perfectly delighted to be out for his morning walk, and was eager to notice and smell everything in the world.

As I continued to walk, it struck me that there is a similar choice in the spiritual life. We're all broken at some level. Our ability to walk freely and naturally with God is hampered by our disordered attachments, maladaptive idiosyncrasies, persistent weaknesses, and chronic patterns of sin. So what do we do? We can spend all of our time and reflection and prayer wringing our hands over these things, obsessing about them (which usually makes them worse) or even fetishizing them so as to make sin the primary subject of our spiritual life, or we can simply be grateful for the grace of God that has lifted us up and enabled us to walk above our debility and even in spite of our attachment to it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insight. In the spirit of Advent, it will be much better to rejoice that we can be made anew by repentance and forgiveness and should be thankful for God's mercy instead of wringing our hands over our weaknesses.

Greg said...

Thanks for posting. I feel like I was walking in the early morning light alongside you with fresh eyes on the world.

Julia said...

"A pondering, a grateful, pensive, admiring pondering, of past mercies is a very different thing from that sickly self-inspection which unnerves so many pious persons, and is unwholesome to all." --Fr Faber, Spiritual Conferences

Brother Charles said...

What he said!

A Bit of the Blarney said...

Lessons are taught in many and sundry ways! Thanks be to God!! Cathy