Liveable Liturgies

‘’Last night, I went shopping for food for my spiritual director, who is my dog.’’ The Rev Matthew Fox (Orlando Sentinel, 11/5/88)

Over the course of the last several months, I have noticed the routine behaviors I carry out. Many of them are daily, and most all of them are mundane and filled with potential for vacuous meaninglessness. So I need to wake up and seek the patterns God is tracing in the daily routines.


For several reasons, I have wanted a dog. Our blessed Neenah, pictured above, was in our family for fourteen years. She peacefully journeyed with us from our home in Pennsylvania, to Kansas, then to Idaho. She loved snuggling, chasing my fishing lures into the water, becoming a dripping mess at her water bowl, and loving people. She was an extrovert. And a protector, barking a fearlessly at shadowy silhouettes in the distance and scary looking doll hair underneath our daughter's blankets. She barked once at our mailman, Leroy, but then they became best friends. 

 
Clerical collar of Spiritual Director Neenah  

Clerical collar of Spiritual Director Neenah

 

Once when I heard Rev.Matthew Fox speak, I heard him refer to his spiritual director. All of us engaged in spiritual direction ministry should have a spiritual director with whom we meet regularly. But Rev Fox went on to explain that he takes his spiritual director for walks and is a dog. That made all the sense in the world to me. When Neenah and I walked, I was either lost in the thoughts of my own head, in quiet prayer, or talking to her. And when my mind drifted too far away, she would do something to bring me back to earth and attend to this world and to her. The twice daily walks were a dynamic dialectic between spiritual reflection on divine things and concerns and making sure she pooped in the right place (as well as other earthly concerns like fetch and scratching her belly.)

Clerical collar of Spiritual Director Mika

Clerical collar of Spiritual Director Mika

Now I have a new spiritual director, Mika. I am not sure what to expect. I assume she will have the same tendency to tie me to earthly matters. The dialectical pull between holy meditation and teaching her to poop outside; the pull between, "I need to type one more page", "No lick, no chew, no jump"; between those times when God feels distant and God sends a bundle of fur with a wagging tail and ball. 

Mika, at 12 weeks

Mika, at 12 weeks

 

The need for daily attentiveness, being awake and awakened, these are the things which make for life. And while most people are fine doing these things on their own, I guess I need a dog to help me with that.