Everybody has their habits, and we dogs like habits. It takes some time, though, to really figure out the habits of people. At least I think that’s true. This human of mine takes me to church, like I said before. I usually get to go on the days when people are not there. It seems that even though they say they like church, they don’t want to be there too often. I am not sure why. Maybe too much of a good thing? Anyway, the days when we are not at church are days when we still do this thing called prayer. This is how it works.
When we get up in the morning, real early, to go outside and start the day in the fresh air, that is good stuff. Except if there is a storm with a lot of water falling down, or that white stuff that comes when it’s cold. After we are out there for a while, the human calls us and says, “Time to pray cookie!” Or something like that. I really had trouble understanding the prayer part, but the cookie part made sense to me right away.
So we go inside and upstairs to a special room where it’s always quiet. The human sits down and is very quiet for a kind of long time. The good part is that a bunch of times while we are there he gives us cookies. All sorts of good cookies. And this is before breakfast. It is a great way to start off the day. So, even though I don’t really understand the whole thing, I am for prayer. I think it helps my human too. After we pray he is ready to do all the other stuff he is supposed to do. And he seems pretty mellow too ( I think that’s a good word for it). Yay prayer.
Over the last few years I have sometimes opened my eyes during the quiet time in the little rectory chapel in the morning and decided to take a photo. A year and a half ago there were three of God’s creatures there with me each morning. There was Leo, my mother’s cat, who spent his last six years, to the age of almost 21, with me. There was Gracie, whose recollections of those mornings is above. Gracie spent just about 10 of her almost 11 years with me, a miniature Australian Shepherd with a really big heart. She started life cautiously, but grew to love people and the adventures of every day. And eventually there was Mercy, the newest-comer, also an Australian Shepherd, a little bigger than Gracie, intelligent and impractical at the same time.
When I would take a photo of the three there in the chapel, I called it the ‘interspecies monastery.’ Their company was real and – call me crazy – their sense of the special nature of that time and place each day grew through the months and years. Now one of them remains there each morning, in body. But the wholeness of the moment includes the little ones who already had been there, and fully there. “Time to pray cookie” became something very real, a center of the day at its very opening, often even before morning light appeared in the eastern sky. Ubi caritas, Deus ibi est.