at about the two mile mark of my run with the dog yesterday i had had enough of her tugging on the leash.
this was about half of a mile before she decided to stop dead in her tracks, about pulling my arm out of socket, to point at some ducks wandering through the park. then i had really had enough.
didn’t she know that she was my motivation for getting out and running in the rain yesterday? didn’t she know i frequently don’t want to go for a run but do so anyway because i feel guilty that i leave her in a crate all day at home? didn’t she know?
no, of course she doesn’t know that. she’s a dog.
no, of course she wasn’t thinking about the unnatural leash attached to the unnatural collar around her neck that one could say i am the one tugging on, not her.
no, of course she didn’t think stopping to point to the ducks, which is her natural-bread-into-her-instinct , was wrong in any way.
so why would i do that?
why would i get upset that she is being a dog and not just being a dog, but being the dog she was bread to be.
it is as if, in her sweet and furry way she was saying “DUH, boss! i am just trying to do what comes naturally!”
i have been frustrated with the institution of the church a lot lately. if i were naming our relationship on facebook relationship-status-style i would choose the “its complicated” choice. and i’m talking specifically about the institution here, not a pastor or someone in leadership–but the machine of it all–the culture of “north american sunday morning christianity” kind of church.
yesterday when running with the dog i realized that i often feel like she must–i’m just trying to do what i think is right, what comes naturally and sometimes this works in a really beautiful symbiotic way promoting growth for myself and for the institution. but then there will be a moment when i want to linger in contemplation, or step deeper in to what barbara brown taylor is calling “lunar spirituality”* that i feel the proverbial leash yank from the institution continuing to run in the direction it was going while i’ve stopped to point at the ducks.
i want to know how to work this out–i want to know how to follow my instincts and vocation within the church i feel called and where my calling is affirmed while taking this contemplative stance** and moving slower than those around me (or stopping to think, or to “tell all the truth but tell it slant”***).
my desire is not to conform to some already laid out way, but to do it the way i feel called. (this is different than “i did it my way” because its not my way, but the way i feel called by the god i serve to do so.) sometimes the way i feel called overlaps well with the already existing parameters and way of the established institution, and sometimes it overlaps a little less than totally, and sometimes not at all.
what is the difference between do-this-to-do-that (it is all a part of the journey), biding one’s time, and selling out? how do we know when its slowing down to look at ducks which results in tugging on the leash, and when its slowing down so as to tug on the leash? it is a simple, yet complicated, difference. a difference that is small yet huge.
i learn so much more about life when i run.
*barbara brown taylor’s new book “learning to walk in the dark” explores what she calls “lunar spirituality.” i am listening to her read it as the audio book which i highly suggest–why fear darkness/unknown? especially when we learn such beautiful things there?
**the language of “contemplative stance” i learned from rev. dr. elaine heath who, among other things, co-founder of the missional wisdom foundation. she writes of this stance in the mystic way of evangelism.
***”tell all the truth but tell it slant” is one of those emily dickinson poems that, after the first reading, has been rattling around in my soul ever since. if you must read it on the internet and not from a book it is here.