Friday, October 4, 2013 – The Feast of St. Francis
In honor of St. Francis, I’m keeping this morning’s reflection simple.
Many people consider the love of creation and the blessing of animals to be sacred components of the legacy of St. Francis. I don’t have any pets myself, but I read an article last year that convinced me that I must get a dog someday (“Wonder Dog,” by Melissa Fay Greene). Everything about this dog spoke to me of God’s love.
The article introduces readers to a golden retriever named Chancer, who is a companion to Iyal, a 13-year-old boy who suffers from severe Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Greene describes the way that F.A.S. damages the pathways in the brain that most of us take for granted. For Iyal, “The routes to friendship, fun, intimacy and love are underdeveloped or buried under cognitive roadblocks.”
Chancer can’t cure Iyal of his neurological disability, but he can bring Iyal peace and joy that he has never experienced before. How? By offering his unconditional and transforming love.
I hope that you’ll find time to read about the details, but here are the basics: Chancer’s reassuring presence lowers Iyal’s anxiety levels, calms his nighttime fears, interrupts his troubling behaviors, and helps him to imagine what others are thinking and feeling.
And here’s the divine revelation: “Chancer doesn’t know that Iyal is cognitively impaired. What he knows is that Iyal is his boy. Chancer loves Iyal in a perfect way, with an unconditional love beyond what even the family can offer him.” Where can we find that unconditional love that mere humans cannot fully provide?
In today’s gospel, Jesus thanks God for revealing all things not to the wise and intelligent, but to children. Then Jesus invites all of us who carry burdens to come to him and rest. Whether divine revelation and the invitation to rest come to you from heavenly realms or the animal kingdom, I hope that this weekend we can bask in all that loves us in a perfect way.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.