Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Big Wonder

I have been rolling these thoughts around in my head for several weeks and can't make sense of them still. They aren't hooking their carts up to other thoughts nor are they sorting themselves into the
appropriate cubby holes for future reference. Perhaps putting them down "on paper" will help.

A few weeks ago I was able to listen to the whole Speaking of Faith interview with Fr. Guy Consolmagno and Fr. George Coyne, two Jesuit monks who are astronomers with the Vatican Observatory. That is a sentence worth repeating and paying attention to- astronomers at the Vatican Observatory. Who knew there was an Observatory at the Vatican (or that they have an outpost in Arizona) or that there are monks with PhD's in Astronomy? I was also dumbfounded to learn that the Vatican Observatory has the largest collection of asteroids in the world.

What really grabbed me about this conversation between Krista Tippett and her two guests is how happy they both seemed. They were living their lives doing exactly what they wanted and were filled with joy while doing it. They both expressed awe and wonder at the world around them. Most astoundingly neither felt conflict in pursuing faith and hard science. The world was put before them to discover and more deeply understand their God.

This is not to say it was easy. Fr. Coyne said that faith is a daily struggle and not a given. He said there is an assumption by lay people that people of faith are sure of their beliefs. He stated that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.

Religion is something I have struggled with since my youth. As a young girl I questioned my church going neighbors, occasionally attended church with friends and replicated rituals I had learned at my first grade Catholic school with blocks for an alter and raisins to represent the body of Christ. In college I befriended Moonies and a feminist friend graduated to join a convent and move to South America. I was attracted to people with strong faith- much to the chagrin of my atheist Mom. I think I wanted to know more.

People of faith seem at peace with the world and the horrific things that happen. I could dismiss theirs as a simplistic view but I have to admit a bit of jealousy, and I think I am not alone in this jealousy. Many of the ideas from conventional religious faith have been co-opted by modern spiritual or secular humanist thought: be at peace with yourself, karma, ritual, communion, etc. But it seems stripped of the rigor of religious humanism. Why has this divide been created between spiritual journeying and the established religions?

I keep coming back to the two Jesuits who have reconciled their faith with the world around them, led productive lives, joined in the messy fray of human interaction and are joyful in the process. I am not sure this is something I can attain or if religion is a requirement to attain it. Or perhaps this is a lifelong quest.

Hellllooooo out there- any answers?

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Girl Orly

I dropped in to see my friend Annie- and her pooch Orly. Orly is a Briard who is 11 years old. She was one of my Golden Retriever's dearest walking buddies- as we would meet up most mornings for a brisk 1 mile walk. For a treat we might drive to an outer borough for a longer jaunt. As youngsters my Golden & Orly would race around biting each other and rolling on the ground. As they reached middle age this segued into companionable walking. They were just happy to be in each other's company - no interaction necessary.

Lady died at the young 7 years of age. Annie listened to me cry and Orly put her paw on my lap. She missed Lady too, but she was always happy to see me and soon welcomed my new pooch, Henry.

She was happy to see me this time too. She got her weak back legs underneath her and came as she heard my voice in the front yard. We spent an hour looking at the new sod, peas coming up and lolling on the grass with the dogs. I noticed that Orly's breathing was a bit raggedy and Annie squeaked out that she"just wasn't ready for this."

I remember saying the exact same thing as I negotiated the week that started at the vets and ended at a surgeons. Contemplating the death of a companion is difficult, doubly so when you have to make that final decision- when your companion can't speak for themselves. Watching Annie negotiate these same decisions brings tears to my eyes now. In some ways it was easier for me because Lady was clearly in the end zone and my decision was to pick which hour instead of which week. I can see that no one is ever ready for this decision whether a life is cut tragically short or it has been lived to a full and natural conclusion. That pain of loss is just as full.

My thoughts are with Annie, Orly and anyone else struggling with these decisions.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Summer Do

The weather has been so warm here in New Hampshire that it seemed the right time to give Henry his new summer do. This is a procedure fraught with wrestling, stern voices and much skittering around in the front entry that I close off to keep him from escaping. I use to take him to a groomer but these tough economic times forced me to buy my own clippers and experience the struggle first hand. Here he is with the new clip. I like to keep it a little long around his face so he doesn't look too ridiculous. He has a very long, thin snout.

After the clip comes the bath. I have found it easier to just take him into the shower with me. He hates showers about as much as he hates hair cuts. There is no struggling, just cowering. After a quick dry I let him loose to shake off and run away from me. He usually tries to find a sunny spot- even though it was 70 degrees! This is his "I want a new owner" face.

Now for the blow out!