Devotional – Monday, March 30, 2020

Paul and I have a black lab-terrier mix named Kacey. She came into our family shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At the time, there were many lost or abandoned pets roaming around south Louisiana, and this one found her way into our neighborhood. Upon seeing Paul and our golden retriever Emma out for a walk, Kacey followed them home, and the rest is history. I guess you could say she chose wisely. She is now an only dog since Emma passed away in 2016.

In their younger days, Kacey served as personal trainer for Emma. Golden retrievers tend to slow down and gain weight as they age, but with Kacey around, there was not much chance of that happening for Emma. They would chase each other around the yard until their tongues were dangling, get some water and do it again. As a mighty hunter, Kacey would sneak up on an unsuspecting lizard, rear back, then pounce on it with both front feet. She was also an excellent bee catcher, bumble or regular, it mattered not to her. Her nocturnal responsibilities included securing the perimeter of our back yard lest any sneaky opossums tried to make their way in.

Kacey has retained remnants of wildness – probably traceable to her time on the loose before she adopted us. She got along well with Emma, but would fight her for food if given the opportunity. Now she is pointedly unsociable toward other dogs. We thought about getting a puppy companion for her (and me!) but fear she would not respond well to the competition.

Kacey is nearing age 105 in dog years, and it shows. Until recently, she walked at a steady pace, ears flapping up and down, tail wagging back and forth. Now she stops every five-10 feet to check the territory, sometimes lingering, sometimes just whiffing. When the spot check is complete, she will saunter on and repeat. Although she would still challenge the lizards and bees if she could just see a little better, she spends most of her free time napping. 

We are now a week into our mandated social distancing, and many of us voluntarily isolated for a week before that. We have at least another two weeks to go. For those of us not on the front lines, even if we are able to work or learn from home, life is pretty slow while we try to flatten the curve. As I watch Kacey slow down and take time to sniff the clover, I am thinking maybe it’s not such a bad idea for us to slow down as well. I don’t mean that our current situation is anything less than a horrendous nightmare, but in our pre-coronavirus lives, didn’t we long for more quiet, more peace, more time? Now that this quarantine has been forced upon so many of us, maybe our role is to open our minds and hearts to where God is leading us, to open our ears to what he is telling us, to offer our prayers for what is troubling us. Maybe we do have the time now – time to make peace in our lives.

This prayer by Richard Cardinal Cushing always gives me comfort, and I hope it does the same for each of you.

Slow me down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amid the confusion of this day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations – of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift – there is more to life than increasing its speed. 

Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values, that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.

Offered by Mary Thompson

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