A Prayer for Grady
October 5, 2011At the dawn of creation God spoke forth light and dark and creatures from the seas and woods and God called it all good.... every living thing... good. In the dawn of this day I sit with blanket around me watching a sunrise that is pink as newborn skin. Gulls and other critters sing praise in the distance and my tiny voice echoes, "Come let us raise a joyful sound, a shout of triumph to the Rock of our salvation...." Creation is hard to ignore at sunrise. Unfolding light reveals a tender waking up and opening of life on this new day. Yawning and stretching creation readies itself for all the day holds. It is blessing to slow down and notice. October 7th is Saint Francis' Feast Day. When we were in La Verna several years ago, a young monk gave us a tour of the retreat in the hills of Tuscany where Saint Francis would go to renew his spirit. It is the place where Francis received his stigmata and where he died. There is a crevice in the rocks there where Francis would crawl, lie on his back and look up at the sliver of sky above him. He would go there to "remember how small he was in the universe." Saint Francis had a great capacity to contextualize his own life into the greater life of all creation. He was one of many, not better or bigger or more important. Just a part of creation that God loves. For the years of my ministry, one of the great joys has been to offer a Blessing of the Animals, remembering the goodness of God's work in the world in the creation of all that lives and moves and has being. We have blessed Echo and Chelsea, Moses and Toasty, Otis and Latia. This year there was a beta fish and a hermit crab to bless. And there was Grady. Grady is a seven year old greyhound who has just been diagnosed with bone cancer. He stood in the back of the car waiting for his owners to lift him out and lay him on a mat to wait for prayer. His doe-soft eyes spoke volumes about his innate love and goodness. His pain was obvious, but he was not restless in it. Only gentle, accepting. The prayer for Grady brought healing tears and gratitude for a life well lived. People have asked me, "Do dogs go to heaven?" I'm not sure I think dogs need heaven. I think they may have a greater place. Dogs are such pure unconditional love and grace, they are incorporated into God's love from conception to dust. They go to the top of the class. Grady will too. Poets say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. That may be true, still loss is real and painful to move through. As the sun rises on this day, may healing cover the earth alongside the light. May Grady and all who suffer find peace in the goodness that is God with us. Amen.