Last week we noodled on how everything seems to be connected, as a fine tapestry, how as we open the divine portals to Him by our choices, more connections to the divine are seen, and experienced. We begin to feel His Presence in so many ways. We experience the intimacy of Yeshua in our lives enriching our days, bringing us a taste of His Kingdom in Heaven here on earth.
And so it was a simple walk in the woods yesterday morning, a gloriously warm and sunny day. I must name the characters in this vignette, for their individuality drives the story.
My sister Wendy (Yosie), a friend Zach, Sid and I, were walking the five fur babies we have among us in the lovely woods near my sister’s house. Sid and I can easily leave our Sofie and Capt. Punem off leash. Sofie comes when you whistle and Capt. Punem, being old and arthritic, unfortunately struggles a bit, so for part of the walk we wheel him in a stroller. When we get to the forest we let him walk too. He always stays closeby, fiercely loyal, not letting us out of his sight unless he’s not capable of keeping up with us. Yosie’s fur babies, on the other hand, are quite unique in personality.
Her big gal Bodie is just a love bug, but if left off leash, would just keep running. Yosie has let her hound mix Lily off leash and she seems very trustworthy to return when called. Just recently Yosie has been experimenting with letting Grace off leash for very short periods and, although a hound mix, Grace possibly was being considered to be trusted to not run away. On this walk she was going to be given a longer test.
So we let all the dogs other than Bodie run free. It was a little dicey at first with Grace but it seemed that once Lily was let off leash she would run ahead of Grace to make sure Grace returned when called. Yosie mentioned that Lily was usually in charge of the pack so that was a good dynamic on this day. Bodie kept tugging at her leash to join in but could not be trusted to not just keep going. Sofie was always obedient so when we whistled she would come back and the others would follow since she was playing with Lily and Grace as they ran through the woods exploring it together.
What a glorious day! High 60s in November! So much easier to just have one dog Bodie on leash. We were in the moment. The trees are amazing! The dogs are being so obedient! We can relax and enjoy our walk without so many leashes! It was so much fun. We could let the dogs run for awhile, Lily would herd Grace, and then Sofie would lead everyone back when we whistled. This went on for quite a little while back and forth. We were all moving through the woods following the playing dogs as they would go out of sight. Then we’d whistle, treat them when they came back (led by Sofie, of course 😊), then let them run off again. How delightful!
Wait!!! Where’s Capt. Punem???????
We had all focused so much on the other dogs that none of us had noticed that our 15 year old, deaf, partially blind, arthritic pug had vanished into the woods!!! There was no sign of him!
We searched and searched. The trail was covered by leaves so was no longer distinguishable from the rest of the woods. He was nowhere to be found. And being deaf he couldn’t hear our calls. All five of us split up looking for him. How could an old slow arthritic dog have gotten out of sight so quickly???
After what seemed a lifetime, Yosie found him. Capt. Punem had walked back the way we had come and was almost back to the beginning of the trail.
As I processed what had just happened, I said to myself, this whole experience has to have a meaning. And it did . . .
If you’d like, you can stop reading now. I try to keep these Shabbat encouragements a manageable length. But this story had to have this much backstory for the following to reveal its richness. So feel free to keep reading Tapestry – Part 3 or save it for next week. I just had to share when it was so on my heart.
Tapestry – Part 3
Our experience in the woods could have just been a story with a happy ending. Yet as we’ve been discussing, the more we choose touchpoints to His Kingdom, the more we experience it.
Each day I start my morning, if at all possible, with the Daily Dvar. And I’m working into my days all of the other ways I’ve found so far to keep my life centered on HaShem/Yeshua – morning Shachrit (struggling to do that one every day but better than before), audio texts with Yosie and Chaya (listened to when I can), jogging with Him while listening to Messianic Jewish music (every other or couple days), Hebrew classes planning in process. I’ve recently added rewatching “The Chosen”, an amazingly, even highly IMDb rated series about the life of Yeshua, to my routine. We are rewatching Seasons 1 and 2 every night in preparation for the release in theaters of the first two episodes of Season 3 on November 18th.
I am convinced that starting my day centered in Scripture, incorporating God-centered interactions into my daily routine as much as possible, and ending each day with watching “The Chosen”, sometimes even the bedtime Shema, are the reasons the following insights burst forth from such a simple walk with our dogs in the woods:
Logs in our eyes – We were all so focused on Grace not running away (her shortcoming) that we didn’t see the logs in our own eyes by not tending to the ailing older dog (our responsibility). (Thank you, Yosie.)
Unconditional love – Capt. Punem does whatever necessary to always be with us. Despite his painful arthritis he tried so hard to keep up. When he lost sight of us, he went back the way we had come knowing we’d be there eventually. His unconditional love of us enabled him to walk to where he would be with his loved ones again.
Sacrificial love – In the flurry of activity, Yosie lost her favorite sunglasses, not letting that stop her from her quest to find Capt. Punem.
The prodigal son – We showered our attention on Grace’s return and not on Capt. Punem, the one who always wanted to stay with us.
Trust – Without trust, Bodie’s relationships are not as fulfilling. She can’t be trusted off leash so can’t run freely as the rest can do, and so misses out on so many rich personal and communal experiences.
Faith – Letting Grace go took great faith by Yosie that Grace would return, that she could be trusted.
Community – Lily, as leader of the pack, served an important role, and each fur baby was influenced by and enriched by their interactions with each other. Not only did they have more enjoyment by experiencing the romp together, but they also learned from one another, stayed safe, and grew in their relationships.
I feel like I could go on and on. As we walked, these connections to Scripture, to Him, continued to fill my soul. It felt as if I was walking with Yeshua, that He was teaching me through this parable about a walk with dogs, much as we see Him doing on “The Chosen.” The actual activity became so much more.
Feel free to send me your insights too. I am convinced that I am seeing more of Yeshua in my daily life because I am choosing more ways to interact with Him. By starting my day and ending my day with God as the center, by weaving spiritual strands that connect to Him throughout the day, each day is no longer a “regular” day. These touchpoints to the divine are amplifying my ability to experience more and more intimate moments with Him. These are in addition to the daily ways we’re already living Jewish lives in Him – growing in being kind to others, making more mindful food selections, putting ourselves in our brothers’ and sisters’ shoes, putting others’ needs ahead of our own.
The additional ways we are discussing are even more deliberate life giving choices. And as we choose them, live them, more life experiences are connecting as we see His workings in and through them to mold and teach us. Who knows . . . perhaps as we integrate the secular with the holy in these ways more and more, we will sense Yeshua’s presence all the time. Can you imagine?
Try it, a step at a time. Such a walk with Yeshua is not just a simple walk in the woods. It’s divine.