nourishment

Before rescue-mix husky Lily’s surgery 3 weeks ago she relished her food. No sooner had I put her bowl down for her than she had vacuumed up every morsel. Even during the 2 weeks before her surgery after the injury. She ate everything.

She has always been all about food.

So part of the reason she tore her acl was her weight. This is my fault and I need to correct it. After all it’s not as if she can get her treats out of the cupboard. So I have been trying to be careful.

But her regular food? Completely turns her nose up at it. After her surgery the vet changed her food which might be part of the problem. She’s never been picky though, so I had no concerns when they sent me home with an enormous 30-pound bag of kibble that this would be a problem.

Most days though, later in the day she will go to her bowl and quietly eat her food. So maybe she just wants me to think she doesn’t like the change.

When I was little every Sunday after church my grandparents who moved from New York to be nearby would join my family for Sunday dinner. These were my mom’s parents (I never met my father’s, they were in Colorado, a long way from North Carolina), and I adored them.

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I was a picky eater. After everyone had finished, even dessert there I’d sit, my plate with remnant peas or whatever it was I did not care for staring back at me and as everyone else left the table I was told I had to sit until I finished my plate. My grandfather always sat with me.

He would not berate me, maybe offered a word or two of encouragement, but the important thing, for me, was he thought enough of me to not want me to be ashamed. Or alone.

This is something I think many of us do not understand. We have our comfy homes, our lovely friends and we do not see the ones who are alone. In our comfort we simply don’t see them.

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Nourishment comes to us in so many ways. Our physical food, the joy of a familiar voice, the wag of a dog’s tail, a favorite symphony, an unexpected note in the mail, a good book, a phone call from someone checking in, the family member who remembered something and wanted us to remember, too.

There is a hunger though, deep in each of us that no one else and nothing else can fill but God. His love that has known us since before we were born. He is with us every moment. In our fast-paced lives we may try to fill this empty need with many things… human attention, any number of substances that are bad for us or, at least, in excess are not good. All of which are fleeting, inconsistent at best and capricious at worst.

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So we move forward, day by day. We make our plans, work at our jobs, all the while knowing ultimately it is not we who are in control.

I know this for certain when I put Lily’s food in her bowl.

Transitioning

Somehow this Thanksgiving I found myself encapsulated in some sort of selfdom. Hard to describe and not very comfortable. My son appears to be fully incorporated into his girlfriend’s life and family, my brother and his family each have their own aspects to life and yet I am outside of things. If there are any conflicts, issues or discrepancies I am outside of them. Consequently I am also outside of their joys, celebrations and warmth. How did this happen?

I was raised by a kind of distant yet demanding father. It was not until very late in his life did I feel he actually needed or wanted any love I had for him. It was an odd thing but happy nonetheless.

This is different. As though I have spun off the orbit of their lives. Maybe this is what happens when a child (having grown to adult) chooses the life they prefer to live. It’s good I think to understand this. So much of my life I bounced off walls and doorways trying to find my way until I actually saw myself as I was and could then better adapt and change. Until that happens no one can make any kind of progress. They just stay in their own space, spinning and spinning, wasting time and energy until the light dawns and they are able to see themselves for who they are, what they have been and where they are. How they got there isn’t important, blackouts happen whether you drink or not. The important thing is to get your bearings, find your course and steer for it. It’s good to include others with you on this voyage but sometimes a lot of it is solo. And it is gradual.

The hardest thing, I think, is to see what God did for us in Jesus Christ. We selfish humans cannot fathom such love as someone wanting us so badly to be free of anything that encumbers our spirit that he would assume the responsibility and pay the penalty.Somehow God can do this for us but we cannot do it for others or ourselves. Frederick Buechner says this far better than I in his book, Wishful Thinking, then again in Beyond Words: 

“What is new about the New Covenant, therefore, is not the idea that God loves the world enough to bleed for it, but the claim that here he is actually putting his money where his mouth is. Like a father saying about his sick child, ‘I’d do anything to make you well,’ God finally calls his own bluff and does it. Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross where God did it is the central symbol of New Covenant faith. So what? Does the suffering of the father for the sick child make the sick child well? In the last analysis, we each have to answer for ourselves.”

Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, by Buechner, Frederick. Harper & Row, Publishers, (c) 1973. Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, by Frederick Buechner. Harper San Francisco, Publishers (c) 2004