Sunday, September 13, 2009

All About Poop

I was at fault. And I told her so.

I had offered to walk a girlfriend’s little dog while she was away, and being a novice, forgot to take along what every conscientious dog walker should have: a bag for poop. Sure enough, little Mitzi unloaded on the corner of a householder’s yard.

The householder was outside clipping her bushes. When she saw Mitzi’s dirty deed, her eyes narrowed, her jaw clenched, and waving her shears, she marched my way.

I tried to intercept. “I don’t blame you for being angry. I’m so sorry! Would you have a plastic bag or just a piece of newspaper? I’ll pick it up right now.”

Oh no! The householder didn’t care that I was sorry. I should have brought my own supplies! I was a disgrace! My dog was a disgrace! She’d had enough of dogs pooping on her lawn! I should go home, get my own bag, and come back to pick it up.

“But I’m three blocks away. If you would just have an old piece of newspaper…the want ads maybe?”

No, no! Absolutely not!

She was more than angry. More than furious. She was enraged! With her imprecations ringing in my ears, I slunk away with Mitzi.

But after I delivered Mitzi, I went back. With a poop bag in hand.

The poop had been picked up.

I rang her doorbell. Timidly I held up my bag. “I did come back…”

Through the screen she snarled, “Too late! I picked it up! But it’s not fair!” Slam!

Whew. The householder's rage seemed to go so far beyond the actual incident, that I began to wonder. At a deeper level, could she be responding to a different reality?

Maybe she’d been going along, living her life, clipping her bushes, just trying to be a good person when suddenly, into her life had come some unexpected
s - - t. Something she felt she didn’t deserve! That wasn’t fair!

It can happen to us all, can’t it? In big and small ways. A boss lays off workers. A spouse asks for a divorce. Our investments disappear. Or a strange dog poops on our carefully tended lawn.

Those are times when we do want to scream, “It’s not fair! I don’t deserve this.”

But maybe the best that any of us can do—-really ---is to simply pick up and go on. If we let rage get the best of us, we won’t hear if someone says “I’m sorry” or “I’d like to help.” And then, no matter who actually picks up the poop, we will still be holding it in our hearts.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Can You Take a Day Off?

Every so often you hear something described in such a way that it makes you sit up and take notice. It happened when my friend Brian said, “People say that Americans are afraid of leisure. Of taking time off from work. But it must go deeper than that. Otherwise why would God, speaking through Moses, have felt all humans needed to be ordered to take a day off?”

Sure enough, for those who follow the Judeo-Christian path, there it is: one of the Ten Commandments: “For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Keep it holy.” In Genesis, even God took the seventh day off to rest from his work. (Gen 2:2)

For 3 weeks, I observed myself to see how well I keep this Commandment. Am I willing to let one day in my crowded week be a day to be lie fallow? To step away from my constant connections to social media and the internet? To set aside my “Things to Do” list?

What I saw is this: though I took time for church, I was a busy bee after that. Running errands. Catching up on housework. And connecting on line, of course.

Yet Holy Leisure, by giving me a break from my primary work, offers an opportunity to become a more Whole human being. It’s a time in which my soul can steep itself in being, not doing.

One of my biggest challenges has been giving up my compulsion to go on line. Instead, I’m trying to feel “okay” about turning off my computer for a day. (Is that your gasp I hear?) To feel okay about taking a Sunday nap. Or putting my feet up and reading a book. Or, if I exercise, to do it out of doors where I can experience God’s beautiful natural world.

I’d love to hear from others who have decided to “Keep holy the Sabbath.” And especially from anyone who might be joining me in shutting down their computers for a day!