If People Were Stray Animals

Stray Dog

If people were stray animals, wandering alone and hungry, how long would one range before her protruding ribs and sunken eyes betrayed her as rejected, unwanted, alone? How long would she dart in and out of traffic, looking for water or rest before some kindly motorist stopped, called out, and tried to entice her to safety with some morsel of food?

If people were dogs and cats, and you were to see one eating from a trash can, or skulking into the crawl space under your house, would you feed him? Would you try? Would you?

You think you would. You say you would. Yet you pass by daily. You avert your gaze from the halt step, the shriveled limb protectively hidden, the fear in the eyes.

“My life,” you Tweet, “My life is so full. I’m so blessed.”

 

Stray Cat

Second Chance Animal Sanctuary

At Second Chance Animal Sanctuary, volunteers visit the animals daily. They walk the dogs. They play with the kittens and name them. They freshen the water, play tug-o’-war with the puppies. They fill index cards with descriptions that prospective adopters read:

REX is playful and outgoing. He is good with children and other animals. Best suited for a family.

CHLOE was feral but rescued along with her kittens and brought here. She needs a subdued environment. A single owner, child-free household would be best for her.

RUFUS is a mature pit bull-lab mix who enjoys a romp in the yard and a good scratch behind the ears. He’s extremely patient and even-tempered and would adapt well to households with older children, or perhaps an older couple.

If people were stray animals, we would all be worth rescuing. Groups of rescuers would band together, forming networks whose only purpose is to give care and comfort to the abandoned. We would form 501(c)(3) organizations for the rescue, feeding, and care of the lost.

ALICE was married 48 years and her husband died. She raised eight children and was Red Cross volunteer for 25 years. She enjoys reading Emily Dickinson, takes a walk every evening, and is a fan of Gunsmoke. She needs a gentle friend, preferably a single person with a wry sense of humor, who shares some of her interests and can drive.

TREVOR never knew his father. His mother’s drug habit rendered them homeless. Trevor dropped out of school and went to work to support himself and his mother’s habit. He needs a strong male friend who tolerates (and even uses) coarse language, and can teach him a trade.

TAYLOR is transgender. Her family rejected her and she hasn’t seen them in four years. Taylor is startled each morning when she has to shave her beard stubble. Lacking the means to use hormones, she makes do with what she has, but feels a sense of disconnection from herself and everyone around her. She needs hormone treatment and a group of understanding, loyal friends who will stick with her.

If Lost People were Stray Animals

If lost grownups were stray animals or abandoned children, we’d understand. We’d know right away what was needed. We would approach with all gentleness the person whose way of life and way of being had been shattered. Moved by pity, we would patiently entice the starving-hearted with choice morsels. We would keep our distance but watch daily for the slightest sign that the traumatized were able to trust again. Small victories would be worthy of celebration. “She approached me in public today,” your status update would say, “She hesitated before declining my invitation to dinner at my home. I can tell she’s starting to rely on our weekly coffees at Starbucks. Some day she’ll be able to trust me enough to accept that dinner invitation.”

How lovely, if each traumatized person were valued as much as a stray animal. How the abandoned and unwanted must long to be loved when they cannot love themselves. How they must long to have someone whose first act of love is to see, the next to listen. To be noticed is to have value; to be worthy of patient outreach and rescue is to be given hope. What if teams of volunteers sought out the shattered sufferers, removing them from their cages, taming them, showing them love?

If you could see her abandonment, his feral wildness—how they snarl at the traps that snapped them in two and have them bound—you would see that they may die from it. You would see that one person in her life would make a difference, two would be able to bear his litter to the place where angels stir the healing waters, and three would be wise men bearing healing salves and the most subtle spices to return flavor and beauty to her life.

I wish you could look past our bared teeth and growls with eyes of faith, love, and unreasoning hope, envisioning what might happen if we were fed, and gentled, and loved day by day until we could relax, even play again.  I wish you would see that every animal deserves a second chance.

Stray Pup

8 Steps to a Good Mind

Adapted from Purpose Fairy.

1. Always focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

The mistake that most of us make when having a problem is to talk about it over and over again instead of focusing on the end result, instead of focusing on what we want to achieve.

2. Know that every problem comes with a lesson.
There is always a lesson in everything that happens to us, and we should constantly look for what that lesson is and master it, because you see, just as Confucius said, “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”

3. Don’t believe everything you think.
Our problems aren’t as big as the mind is trying to convince us, and if you choose to believe every negative thought that goes through your mind, you will always get in trouble. Observe your mind, observe your thoughts, but don’t identify yourself with them. Go beyond them.

4. Gratitude.
Choose to express your gratitude for everything that happens to you, whether good or bad, and also for every person you interact with. The more you choose to express your gratitude, the more reasons you will have to express it, and when you’re too busy focusing on the many things that you are grateful for, there will be no more room left for stress and worry, there will be no more room left for negativity.

5. Know that there is a reason for everything.
As Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.” Therefore, everything that happens and every person who enters your life will ultimately do you good, if you keep your eyes and heart on the Transcendent and on Love, which is God. It’s your responsibility to act upon this knowledge rather than to judge events and people as “bad.” It’s all good, eventually. Believe it.

6. Let go of your need for perfection.
When you try to do everything perfectly, you will meet with stress and frustration, because it’s impossible to be perfect in everything you do. Why would you want to be perfect anyway? Don’t you know that perfection leaves no room for improvement?

7. Let go of your resistance.
Accept things as they are without you trying to change them, without trying to fight against them. When you stress over an outcome and when you resist what is, you fighting against the present moment, against the present reality, against the whole universe, and this is a battle you will never win. Allow yourself to just be. Go with the flow, and know that life wasn’t meant to be a struggle, even though that’s what your mind was trying to convince you all of these years. Learn to “Let go and let God,” knowing that “By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning” (Lao Tzu).

8. Learn to be present in everything you do.
When you become present and engaged in the now, your whole life will become easier and you will realize that problems will begin to disappear, little by little. If you get too caught up in your mind, and if you think too much about what happened in the past and about what may happen in the future, you will create a great deal of pain and suffering, and the energy you will generate will be toxic, not only for yourself, but also for those around you, because energy is contagious. Go with love in the present moment.

Dare to Be Idle

But the great artists like Michelangelo and Blake and Tolstoi–like Christ whom Blake called an artist because he had one of the most creative imaginations that ever was on earth–do not want security, egoistic or materialistic. Why, it never occurs to them. “Be not anxious for the morrow,” and “which of you being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?”

So they dare to be idle, i.e. not to be pressed and duty-driven all the time. They dare to love people even when they are very bad, and they dare not to try and dominate others to show them what they must do for their own good (Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit).

 

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. 

~ Rumi

%d bloggers like this: