Simeon loves other dogs. When watching television, yes he watches, if there are dogs on the screen he whines and goes to the screen trying to figure out how he is going to get in there to play, or maybe he is trying to figure out how the heck they got in there. When we are out walking he is always excited to see another dog, any animal really, but especially another dog.
I have only seen him take an aggressive posture toward another dog twice that I can remember and both times were in response to the other dog being the first aggressor. He is not one to bark for no reason. When confronted with other dogs that bark incessantly he normally just looks at them with a look of “What’s the problem?” on his face.
When he does bark it is usually something we need to take note of whether there is a threat or not. Someone is at the door, someone is in the yard, and someone is next door that Simeon is not accustomed to. He only speaks when invited or when he perceives something or someone out of place or where they should not be, in his mind.
I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” I think of this theme and mindfulness of Simeon’s practice as I watch and listen to the some of the political and some religious rhetoric that continues in the news and in the church. There is that popular, or not, saying, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
I could cite so many times where it would certainly be good practice to pause and really think before someone responded. I know I have certainly experienced that feeling of saying something and just after it comes out of my mouth wishing I could retract it immediately. Sometimes I wonder if there is a political and religious virus that gets spread and the ability to think first and speak second is disabled. Our words matter and we need to find a way to not only tell the truth, but speak with compassion and a listening posture regardless of who we are trying to reach. I remember from my Rotary days the Four Way Test, good words for all I believe; Is it the Truth? Is it Fair to All Concerned? Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships? Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned? One wonders what the world, what our country, what our politics, and what our religions would look like if we all worked even just a little harder at practicing this kind of discipline.
I have long appreciated the wisdom that if we want peace first we must begin with ourselves. Thich Nhat Hanh writes of this beginning practice in his book “Being Peace” when he says, “If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.”
It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.