Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Serving with Love: A Doggy Tale

Lately, too many times, I’ve found our greyhound, Ice, piled in a quivering heap on the floor, desperately trying to get up, with his back legs not quite cooperating the way they did when he was a youth.

Yup, there’s no doubt about it, Ice is getting old.

There’s a hitch in his giddy-up when he runs. And he doesn’t get up and down stairs the way he used to.

In fact, there is a big step in our garage and every time he goes up it, you have to support his hind end with a little pick up. And when he goes to get up after lying down awhile, or over night, he appreciates it if you help an old man out.

Now, I think I’ve said this before. But I am not a dog person. It’s those soft, cute kitties and that purring sound that makes my heart all melty inside. And Ice is Greg’s dog.

Ice and the Beagle, they came with Greg- a package deal.

So “loving” Ice hasn’t come, shall we say, naturally. In fact, I’ll admit it.

There are times when I am self-absorbed in work, and the needs of the dogs, seem, well, annoying. “What? You need some love, RIGHT now?” Or, “Good lord, must you get outside just this minute?”

I know what you are thinking, “Thank goodness she doesn’t have kids”- and believe me, I agree.
So, it’s been interesting to note how I’ve taken to all of this “little extra care.”

Actually, I’ve been surprised to find that whenever I lift him up, I do it with, well, love. I see he needs help, and I extend myself to offer it to him.

As I place my hands under his legs, I feel it, right there, a warm bit of tender, loving care, emanating from my heart to him. I’m doing it to help. I’m doing it to make his life easier. And I’m doing it because, it’s the right thing to do, of course.

But it feels nice to offer it, to be of assistance, even in a small way. But most especially, to offer it with real love, not begrudgingly, and not just with neutrality, but with warmth in my heart. Tenderness, given without expectation of any return.

Like a tiny little gift each time, I am serving him, but there is a reward for us both.

As I’ve been pondering the WAY in which I’ve been offering assistance to Ice, it struck me that it’s the same choice we can make to help our partners, with the things that otherwise we find annoying.

Let’s take that ever increasing line of travel mugs that Greg takes to work to support his coffee habit. They have a way of piling up next to the sink, waiting for someone to take pity on them, and wash them out. I hate doing it, so I let them gather there. And Greg usually washes them.

Or the toilet bowls, which quite frankly, don’t wash themselves either. And Greg hates cleaning them, so he never does.

These are choice moments. The kind of choices that make the difference between love that lasts a lifetime and love that peters out before the 7 year itch.

Can I choose to wash his mugs or clean the toilets, with the same love in my heart that I pick up Ice with, knowing that each is like a tiny gift to Greg- something that makes his life easier?

In fact, I’ve already been doing the toilets like that. Yes! The toilets are a gift to Greg! But we can always take it a step farther…and for me, it’s those darn mugs.

I need to start picking each of those mugs up, seeing it as an opportunity to serve Greg, in a tiny, warm way. I can wash that mug with love, with tenderness in my heart, seeing it as a small offering, a small gift of assistance. Or I can continue to see each mug as an annoyance- which irritates us both.

You have that choice too! With every sock you pick up, with every meal you cook, every shirt you fold, every trash can you take out, every toothpaste cap you have to put back on.

You can turn any annoyance into a small gift, by choosing to serve in love, with warmth in your heart. All it takes is seeing it as an opportunity to give willingly to your partner, simply because it feels good to help out. And your bond is strengthened, right then and there.

That’s how love lasts a lifetime, one mug lovingly cleaned at a time, one sock tenderly picked up, one errand sweetly undertaken in higher service, not only to our partner, but to our love.

I’m glad Ice is teaching me this lesson deeply now, because I am sure that ever greater acts of kindness will be needed as he ages, as Greg and I, also grow older.

Thank you Ice for training my heart to give in service to love.

Readers: What annoyance can you shift into an opportunity to serve kindly, in love?


BocMeow Pet Care said...

Wonderful, wonderful post. My annoyance is the pile next to my husband's recliner. It's a pile of magazines, mail from 6 months ago, and so much more. I think today I'll organize that pile for him.
Thanks for an excellent blog post.

Dr. Jenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Jenn said...

Hey there! So glad you found the post helpful. I'm very impressed that you're taking the idea and running with it! Make that little pile a gift you give to him with joy in your heart and that annoyance is erased!

Good luck and let me know his reaction!

Dr. Jenn