We know what is best for you
For the past six months or so Nancy and Rayann have been telling me I need a dog.
Somehow having a dog was going to help me enjoy life, help me be more active, and improve my emotional state as I travel this cancer journey.
I was pretty clear that the LAST thing I needed was a dog.
The idea of a dog following me around all day did not bring about a sense of joy. Being responsible for feeding and cleaning up after a dog felt like a burden.
The thought of adding another responsibility to my current list of what needs to be accomplished did not seem wise.
Well, a few Saturdays ago Nancy and Rayann could barely contain themselves as they came down to my study. Apparently, they had found “the perfect dog for me.”
I will spare you the story of the “perfect dog” that did not work out and just introduce you to my new best friend, Avila.
Avila and I hang out together in my study. She loves to take short walks and long naps. Just about the perfect companion for me these days. She has learned that when I say, “Time to go downstairs” it is her cue to rush to the stairs and join me in the study.
We have taken a few trips together. She loves Burger King. She starts dancing all over the place when she hears me ask, anyone, want a burger?
Avila and I traveled to the dump the other day. We had some trash to drop off. It was clear she enjoyed the ride. We just happened to pass Burger King on the way home.
This morning Avila and I stopped by the church. I introduced her to my friends at JAM daycare. Avila and I were outside, and my friends were all crouching at the window, but we had a great time reconnecting.
I have learned a few things in the two weeks that Avila has lived with me.
First, Nancy and Rayann were right, Avila is good for me.
We take regular walks around the driveway and she helps me stop work and simply enjoy life. Now that the weather is warming up I am sure we will find time to walk the many nature trails right nearby.
Avila the “organizer”
The second thing I have learned is that I could have used Avila in my life many years ago.
Nancy and I have been married for over thirty years.
Throughout our years together I have consistently mentioned that we have a closet for storing shoes. There is no need to drop shoes wherever the spirit leads one to remove them.
I have grown to learn that the habitual dropping of shoes in random places throughout the house is a small quirk that makes Nancy special.
I long ago gave up advocating for storing shoes in closets.
Avila has helped Nancy see the light of my wisdom in mere days.
While Avila is not a “chewer” she certainly is an “organizer.”
Anything that strikes her fancy belongs on one of the two beds she has within the house. If Nancy can’t find one of her shoes, there is a good chance Avila has picked it up for her.
In just one short week Nancy now puts all her shoes in the closet and then closes the closet doors.
Oh, Avila…where have you been these past thirty years!
Just last night I found myself thinking about something deeper. Avila has helped me connect with God in a deeper way.
She has shown me an example of how love can unleash joy and bring about a spirit of new life.
The realities of my cancer journey still loom large. Life is not less complicated. Yet, in the midst of it, Avila has helped me find joy and a sense of peace.
Simple lessons like these point us to the deeper sense of peace and joy that can be ours as we grow in our ability to love God, ourselves, and others.
Jesus talked about it this way. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, love your neighbor as yourself.”
Avila is named after one of my favorite Christian mystics.
St. Teresa of Avila was a 16th century contemplative, teacher, and reformer. She moved with grace, purpose, and conviction in a male-dominated world to help people form a deep connection with God.
One of her gifts was helping us understand that we can approach God directly.
We offer ourselves, our complete selves to God and slowly the Spirit works healing, renewal, and transformation within our lives. We learn what it is to love ourselves and our neighbors.
Any talk of Avila would not be complete without a thank you to Melissa and the rest of the team at Angel’s Retreat.
When Nancy and Rayann first started to look for my dog they made it their mission to help find the perfect dog for our family.
Avila (Maggie at that time) was pregnant in a public shelter, at risk of being euthanized with her puppies.
Thanks to the work of Angel’s Retreat Avila and all her puppies have found new homes.
I could not be happier with Avila…she has found her forever home.
To learn more about St. Teresa of Avila this is a great read, The Interior Castle.