Susan talked about an epiphany of sorts in a post back in June: the “aha!” of the reality that the trees in her backyard may legally belong to her, but she really doesn’t own them. How true.

“Owning” land, or trees or even a house isn’t really ownership: it’s an obligation to stewardship. It has long seemed to me that when the book of Genesis states that man was given dominion over the world, that didn’t mean that we (humans) own the world, but that we are responsible for taking care of and with the land, the trees and the other creatures that share our world. This planet, this piece of creation is to be enjoyed, but not abused. It is to be respected and cared for. And this respect and care is not just for my benefit, but for all the world.

The same concept applies to Cooper and Grace. One paper, legally, I own 2 schnauzers. In reality, I have accepted the responsibility for these creatures. I am responsible for insuring that they are properly cared for. I am responsible for making sure that they get fed on a regular schedule, that they have a safe place to live, that they get attention and that they go visit the vet and keep up on immunizations and don’t suffer from parasites or other preventable illnesses. Rather like children, they are.

So, when the Stewardship committee at church begins to challenge us, I have to take that with the same seriousness. The life of the Christian community in my parish is a part of my responsibility. This life survives only with care and feeding — or is that prayer and participation? Just as with weeding the flowerbed, or paying attention to the dogs, this community thrives on the care and attention of those who consider themselves a part of it.

Some days I don’t feel like it — I don’t think I have the time or energy. Just like some evenings when the last thing I want is a hot dog sitting on my lap, but I give them a few minutes anyway. Or the evenings when I really don’t feel up to choir practice, but I go anyway.

Stewardship: I guess it’s really the required care and feeding/prayer and participation in life wherever you are.

Life under the deck (more lessons from the dog)

There’s something living under a part of our deck – my guess is chipmunks, but I’ve never seen them. What I have watched is Gracie’s fascination with whatever is there. (Grace is a black mini-schnauzer) She stops suddenly, ears at attention, stub of a tail whirling like a helicopter. Then she pounces the deck in a move that I watched her predecessor use to rid our yard of moles. Pounce! Pounce! Listen. Sniff. Pounce!

Of course she can’t get through the wood of the deck. And, she hasn’t managed to dig in from the side. The space is low to the gound so she can’t squeeze herself in. But, she hears and senses that there is something very magical and interesting happening under there.

It always seems a good thing to become alert and aware and hear those quiet movements just out of reach. It seems a good thing to pay attention to them, even when it seems that I am blocked from full discovery by the wooden covering of everyday life and situations.

I don’t have a stub of a tail that can show my excitement, but I can be alive and aware and try to get through the barrier.


I have a relative who keeps my inbox loaded up with all of the current chain mail and jokes that circulate around the net. I sometimes feel like I have my own personal spammer. Thing is, I usually at least look at every one of those emails, because I never know when there might be something really good in there.

A couple of days ago she sent one purporting to be a dog’s letter to God. I’m a dog lover. We share our house with a couple of miniature schnauzers that earn their keep by protecting us from the neighbor’s “evil yellow cat.” And so I did laugh my way through this “letter.” It was filled with observations and questions such as “if a dog barks its head off in the forest and there’s no human to hear it – is it still a bad dog?” It gave a list of what a dog must remember in order to be a good dog: “The garbage collectors are not stealing our stuff” and “The cat is not a squeaky toy.”

As I continue to chuckle over the dog’s observations, it brings to mind the expectations we put on each other and ourselves. All those things I am expected to do or not do for others to see me as good. Don’t laugh at the wrong time. Mind your manners. Don’t let anybody know how I really feel – especially if that flies in the face of how others see things right now.

And the expectations that we have for each other are no easier. In Acts, there is great disagreement going on because some (most?) expect that for a newcomer to be a Christian, that person must have gone through all the steps of becoming a Jew first.

As I follow Acts, in many ways I see it as the beginning of the journey from pushing “my expectations” to “accepting God’s expectations.” And, so often they are so different. We expect rules, God expects relationship. I expect the syllabus for the class so I can figure out what I have to do to pass, God expects me to come to class and live the experience. I expect a map and a schedule. God says “Walk with me, talk with me. It’ll be a great adventure.”

It seems I’ll just have to continue to learn to let go of my expectations, slow down and learn to be in the present without a syllabus, a map or a schedule.

Resting with God: Lessons from the dog

Today’s observation comes from watching Cooper and Grace (a couple of miniature schauzers that share my home):

The best place to rest is in the Master’s bed – preferably snuggled up on the pillows. It is so much like heaven to rest peacefully surrounded by her scent, in the comfort of a soft mattress and pillows. I can relax and be close. It gives me strength and energy for all the other exploits of my day. It makes me feel safe and content. My first choice of resting places is anywhere that she has been, because she leaves behind reminders of her presence.

I hope that I too can learn to rest in the Master’s bed – to be willing to be loved.