Present Tense

On Forgiving….

Here’s the thing about forgiveness and compassion.

The more I read about the kid who murdered 17 people in Florida last week, the more it breaks my heart.

The whole situation is so incredibly devastating, but to read about a kid…yes a kid…a human…not a ‘monster’ or a ‘madman’, but a kid who had obviously had a difficult life and long standing mental/anger/anti-social problems doesn’t make me angry.

It makes me sad. For him, for his family; obviously for his victims and the entire community who will never fully recover.

He was not getting the help that he needed, his mother died and left him and his younger brother with no guidance, no place to go.

He was broken.

Now, here is the hard part: Forgiveness and compassion.

Remember when Dylan Roof, murdered all of those people in the church in South Carolina? And several of the family members told him, within days of this horrible crime, that they forgave him; some even offered love, based on their religious beliefs.

I was amazed by that reaction. Amazed. Heartened. Inspired.

BUT, just because we forgive or have compassion or love for someone who has done something HORRIBLE, does NOT mean that they avoid the consequences.

My husband and I have this conversation a lot; the whole concept of compassion and grace, usually when I’m complaining about something horrible that a politician did:). He will say “But, we have to forgive their bad behavior because we’re all flawed”. Forgive, but hold accountable.

I actually found myself having to ‘walk the walk’ almost two years ago when a FedEx driver hit and killed my dog Ember in our driveway. He was driving too fast, he knew our dogs and we were devastated.

I looked him in the eye a week later and told him that I forgave him and was sorry for the pain that he was in. I know that both of our hearts were broken. It doesn’t go away, but it lifted just a tiny bit of the burden we were both struggling with.

Just because we feel badly or our heart is broken over the challenges or illness that drove this kid in Florida to murder 17 people, does NOT mean that we as a society, don’t require consequences for his actions.

We can do both. It’s sort of along the lines of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, which I’ve always thought was such a stupid premise. But, I’m starting to get it; that concept is sinking in.

So, here is the bottom line concept: We CAN judge and we can forgive. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

And in fact, in order for us to function, we need to tie those two together.

This is basically what all religions and spiritual ideals teach us. Love our neighbors/our fellow humans/; even those who are flawed and broken. BUT, do not let them off the hook for their actions.

This is hard….living and practicing grace is probably one of the most difficult things we will ever do….

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Story of Mojo

mojoWe lost our dog Ember in May.

I wrote about her death after she was hit by a delivery truck in our driveway.

I wrote about forgiving the driver.

I wrote about how I handled her death and held her body and buried her in the center of my medicine wheel garden.

I haven’t yet written about the solo, 3600 mile, healing pilgrimage that I made to sacred places in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana after her death.  But, I will.

I’m not overstating it when I say that her death and the circumstances surrounding her death were some of the most painful and transformational events of my life.  There was something mystical about it.  Here is the next chapter:

On June 1st, while I was wandering around Badlands National Park, breathing in the energy and working on clearing my heart of the oppressive grief that I felt, 5 puppies were born in Colorado.  They were Jack Russell Terriers from the same family as our dogs Chili (also a devastating loss in 2013), Junior and Ember.

My friends Darlene and Mike, sent me photos of the new puppies. They were also grieving Ember’s loss along with us.  She was ‘their dog’, too as she had come from their kennel.

I had no desire for a puppy anytime soon.  The wound was still too raw. I wanted to take plenty of time to allow the grieving process to unfold.  I knew that healing would happen with time.  We would be a one dog family for a year or so.

When these puppies reached about 6 weeks, Darlene told me that one of them, a little boy, had a heart murmur and needed to be checked out by a cardiologist.  Many times puppies will outgrow a minor heart murmur and so I wished her well and didn’t think about it again.

A week later, she had an appointment with a specialty clinic in Denver to have him checked out. Driving to the clinic, she was caught in traffic.  An accident had closed the freeway and she wasn’t able to get to the appointment.

Frantically, she called a terrier owning friend who recommended another specialty clinic north of Denver with a great cardiologist and she was able to get an appointment.

At that clinic, they were told that “Dipstick” as they’d started calling him due to his black tail, was in congestive heart failure. He had a large hole in his heart.  Surgery, costing thousands of dollars was the only thing that would save his life.  He was 9 weeks old.

They admitted that they just couldn’t swing that amount of money for the pup.  It was a horrible decision to have to make, but the cardiologist was so taken with Dipstick, she said they would do the surgery, no charge.   Out of the blue.  Just like that.  They said, “we’ll save him”.

And they did.  As soon as he was out of surgery, his BP and heart rate were normal. He was up and eating within 24 hours.  A miracle.

The docs said the hole was so big that they couldn’t fix it laparoscopically; they had to open him up and use sutures to close the hole in his heart.  The entire team was in the operating room, watching and rooting for “Dippy” as they called him.

I had no idea that all of this was happening, other than being told that he needed this surgery and that this group of wonderful angels had offered to save his life.

I was telling my husband this story and told him that once he was healed, they would place him in a good home.  He said “Did you raise your hand?”  This comment was from a man who fought me on every single puppy that I’ve brought home.  Who declared loudly after every pet loss, “NO NEW DOGS”.

I hadn’t spoken one word about a new puppy after we lost Ember.  It was still too painful for me and I knew what his reaction would be.

So, the next morning, I meditated on this.  I had decided that we should wait on another puppy. I was hoping for another girl dog.  I didn’t think we had taken enough time to grieve and adapt to our new normal.

But, as I sat in meditation, I heard this: “You all have a hole in your heart and so does he.  You can heal your hearts together”.  Truly.  That is exactly what came to me.

This little dog was full of magic.  He had such a strong spirit to survive for so long with a hole in his heart.  His spirit reached out and grabbed a group of veterinarians when they saw him and propelled them to do a wondrous and compassionate and extraordinarily generous thing.  That is some very good mojo.

I have no doubt that part of that strength and part of that charm came from Ember’s spirit visiting him.  I see Chili’s sweet, wise soul in his eyes.

Mojo saw his docs last Thursday and they declared him cured.  Fixed.  Ready for a long and vivacious terrier life. I’m told some of them had tears in their eyes when they saw how lively and happy he is with his strong, healthy heart.

There is something mystical about this story.  When I weave it all together and see the unseen forces working to bring this pup to us, I’m in awe.

Had he not been sick. Had Darlene not missed the first appointment.  Had I not sat in meditation.  And yes, had we not lost Ember.  Life is so uncontrollable and mixed up and perfect.

He will come to live with us very soon.  He has to.  Spirit wouldn’t have it any other way.

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments


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