The morning is quiet.
A dusting of snow dropped on the valley last night. God’s handful, I think. Angels sprinkled it on the trees and all over the land while we slept. It’s been months of worrying if our mountain valley above Boulder will burn in another drought-inflicted wildfire, of sleepless nights, and emergency preparedness.
This morning, abundant snowfall feels like a forgiveness from nature for our trespasses against her—a celestial grace affording a vital pause in those sleepless nights. Such things are always out of our control.
Hallelujah, I utter in relief, invoking phrases my born-again Christian mother once said.
In more immediate human circles, I find myself looking for more little opportunities to say such things. Evidence of occasion to say “hallelujah” and really mean it. In these pandemic times, such occasions feel rare and elusive.
The heart persists where longing lives. I find such Hallelujah moments readily on the ground in the rescue-dog movement. They feel more accessible to me than waiting for the celestial grace of a sporadic snowfall.
I heard myself saying Hallelujah recently when another wayward, crippled, and young homeless Texas dog was picked up off the shoulder of a remote road in the Rio Grande Valley. Ruffles, as he was named by the shelter, was unfortunate enough to be born in the socioeconomically deprived Texas region renowned for the way it mistreats dogs, and apparently tossed away by someone he once trusted and loved.
Such acts of cruelty, intrinsic in a legal designation regarding dogs as property, easily give rise to anger and disappointment in humanity and foster resentment. Ruffles will forever carry the bullets in his spine that crippled his body and rendered him incontinent. But as he heals from his early life experience, he will undoubtedly transcend such pain and harm to the greater feeling of love and care now bestowed upon him. People are stepping up from everywhere to help him and show him that his life is valuable and worth saving, that humans are not all bad, and he is forever safe and loved.
It takes conscious choice in such instances for people to set aside their own personal feelings of angst, anger, and disappointment in humanity to help yet another dog in need.
Ruffles’ rescue invoked another Hallelujah because I was longing to take him in as soon as I saw him. And yet, the needs of our own disabled dog, Willie Grommit, are great and long-term. I wondered and worried, for the challenges are daunting and there is constant sacrifice to care for such animals. I worried for Ruffles’ fate the way I worry our valley might one day be sacrificed to wildfire.
And then, last night, I learned that a Denver foster is scooping him up and taking him into her home, willingly and graciously.
Another Hallelujah sent out into the universe.
Every time I look at Ruffles’ photo, I smile wide. It’s hard not to feel anything but joy and gratitude for the Good Samaritan finding him on the roadside, the guy giving shelter at the Texas/Mexico border until he could be transported up to Denver, and the rescue taking him further into the arms of his now-foster.
Indeed, it’s hard to feel anything but a swelling of joy and gratitude for these selfless acts. Every time I peer outside to see life beyond my own front door, I can readily find people helping animals, making the human community a more compassionate one, indeed.
It all makes me sing, Hallelujah! Another life is saved, for the number of people stepping up to help dogs in harm’s way is increasing constantly. They express notions of what grace in the real world actually looks like. In the small and meaningful choices, they invoke other ways of being in the world.
Light and love manifested shine brightly in the heart at any given time. But in times of darkness and transformation, they shine even brighter. I think anyone would agree that our human community is in need of such acts of grace and relinquishment of anger or disappointment.
Don’t we all need more Hallelujah moments?
What causes us to say “Hallelujah” in such instances? Is it because acts of grace giving rise to such expression are so very much out of our control? Is it that we’re surprised by the outcome, it was unexpected, and we need a way to express our relief?
When it comes to stepping up to help save a rescue dog in need, particularly one requiring special care, it takes conscious effort to relinquish the temptation of anger borne of witnessing acts of cruelty, neglect, abuse, or violence in favor of helping. To choose healing over anger, to choose love over resentment, to choose the very real sacrifice of devotion and care delivered over a lifetime to a special needs dog. In the expression of such acts, we not only care for the authentic victims of poverty, violence, and cruelty, but also share with the rest of humanity our own personal worldview of generosity, manifested in daily life.
In our more immediate, quotidian lives, grace also looks like a choice, in any given moment, to tap into our own aching hearts or troubled minds, step out of ourselves, and ask with all sincerity how the human being standing in front of us at the checkout line is doing in this pandemic.
To genuinely inquire with the overwhelmed restaurant server how she is faring during these times of labor shortages and double-shifts, wearing a mask for eight to 12 hours.
Or to stand in front of our truck-driving friend, afflicted with COVID-19, who for all his best efforts was too frightened of the vaccine and caught up in the political brouhaha to protect himself.
Or, to step up and foster a rescue dog pulled out of harm’s way far too young in life, providing an opportunity for a second chance at a forever home somewhere more favorable to dogs.
Opportunities in favor of grace exist readily and frequently and make our world a better place to live in.
These small expressions are to me what grace entails. There’s a sense of forgiveness in it all, not unlike when nature decides to snow in times of the planet warming, regardless of the harm inflicted upon it by sending too much carbon into the atmosphere.
Whether we step up to foster a rescue dog in need, inquire as to how another human being is doing regardless of our own disappointment or apathy, or find some act of generosity to express our care, we offer up another Hallelujah to the universe, making the light shine brighter on humanity.
Namaste, and thank you for reading.