A few days ago, I went through my morning routine, grabbed my church survival kit (computer, coffee, keys, cell phone, purse), and prepared to leave the house. My last stop was to the kitchen to grab a bone for our dog. Because that’s what I do every morning. I give her a treat prior to our departure and assure her that we’ll be back.
But, we don’t have our dog, anymore. The previous morning, we had said good-bye to her. So on this morning, as I stood in the kitchen, clutching the doggie bone in my hands, tears running down my cheeks, I wondered what to do with that last bone.
Once I arrived at the church, I set about my business. Catching up on business. Updating this and that. The phone rang. It was one of our members, calling to say that she’d lost something in church on Sunday. So, I grabbed my cellphone, flipped on the flashlight app, and commenced climbing in and out of the rows of pews in the sanctuary, shining my light here and there, back and forth. I didn’t find the item I sought, but I did find a penny, a candy wrapper, and, as I picked up the wrapper, I also retrieved a dead bug. Ooh! Ick!
I immediately wiped it off my fingers. (My apologies to whoever sits in that pew. There may be a bit of exoskeleton remaining in your seat.) And, in that moment, I felt remorse. I picked up that little bug, once again. (Albeit, IN the candy wrapper.) I sat down in a pew – a different one, not the bug-squished one – and began to contemplate. Meditate. Have a little Tevye-type talk with God.
I thought about that little bug scurrying around, working hard throughout its life, just trying to survive and, most likely, trying to ensure the survival of its colony. Why would the life of our pet, whose death we grieve so greatly, somehow matter more than the life of that little bug? Because it’s my colony that’s feeling the impact, rather than that of another? What about other colonies far and wide? Are they of less import? The orangutans in Indonesia? The children on the Ivory Coast? The gang members in Chicago?
As I walked from the sanctuary, my mind swirling with these thoughts, thoughts of how all of life is connected and precious, I walked past a garbage can and tossed the candy wrapper in. The poor, little bug along with it. Already forgotten.
In these chaotic, stressful, fretful times, may we be more mindful of all that matters around us. May we be more mindful of all those who scurry through their days and through their nights, just trying to ensure their survival and the survival of their colonies.
In these days of Advent, as we prepare our hearts in the ways of hope, peace, joy, and love, may we celebrate the life of the One born so long ago. The child who reminds us that these are gifts to be shared with every living being in every colony. Because all belong to God.
As for that one, last bone, I walked outside and gave it a mighty heave — high above our row of cypresses, past the fence, directly into our neighbors’ backyard. Wishing their pup peace and goodwill.