Puppies as a spiritual practice.

Puppies as a spiritual practice.

Before the sheltering in place took effect, I took on another puppy. Another being the third of my pack of doodles. Some friends thought I was going around the bend, another warned me it wouldn’t fill what I was looking for, and another reminded me of how expensive vet bills have become. All well intended caring reminders, yet for me, my doodles are a spiritual practice. Any spiritual practice draws you closer to God, and a doggo is certainly a daily reminder that God is with me — constantly giving me good things to keep me lively, engaged, blessed. Each one is a completely different personality with different preferences for toys and food and how they want to be scritched. 

Being at home gives me a greater connection to them. Through their eyes I see my backyard differently. The trees, soil, and plants are beautiful and capable of giving great joy. The new puppy prefers natural things – wood chips, rocks, vines – to play with rather than the Petsmart toy. Her face and paws show evidence of the joy of digging. I now sweep every morning and night as remnants of the earth and trees are brought into my house by their paws. 

My favorite time of day is early in the morning when we sit outside together. They watch for dangerous and exciting visitors that scurry and fly. I close my eyes and pray, listening to the bird songs. I love the feeling of being embedded in God’s creation. Awed that I have been chosen to live at this time, to give my spirit, my voice, and my talents to revealing to others that God’s Kingdom is with us now. These gracious mornings sustain me. I feel like I’m holding God’s hand and walking through His garden.

Today is Earth Day, and I hope you all will find some way to include tending to God’s creation in your spiritual practices. St. Andrew’s has partnered with the Arboretum so that on Earth Day we will be distributing Victory Gardens to Go. People will pass through the parking lot, hand us $40, and we’ll drop a  flat of 13 plants into their trunk. On Wednesday we’ll also receive plantings for the Seeds of Hope Garden. These vegetable plantings nestled into the boats will mature to feed hundreds of people this year. The garden is a powerful witness that God has given us everything we need. Our job is to steward his blessings, so all will thrive. This week get close to nature, get close to God’s creation. Joy will be had and God’s presence will be felt.

Beth Kelly+

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