This is a guest post by Rosie Driscoll.
I set out down the slope of my driveway, trying to keep the leashes of my two greyhounds untangled. Nelly’s prey drive leads her to dart after the squirrels and cardinals that catch her eye. Chance lumbers forward, paying no heed to Nelly’s youthful energy. By the time we reach the mouth of the cul-de-sac, they seem to untangle themselves and settle into a rhythm.
As they trot side by side in unison, I feel the twisted thought-threads of my own mind begin to untangle, my worries falling to the pavement behind me with each step I take. By the time I reach Westgate Drive, I find myself entering God’s presence, a space of prayer that expands with each deep breath that fills my lungs. In the breeze I feel the Holy Spirit, God’s ruah, blowing through my hair, raising my awareness of God all around me.
I have often wondered why these greyhounds pull me so consistently into God’s presence.
Trust in the Manna
When our first three greyhounds joined our human pack, they made me radically aware of the grace that comes from living, like they do, in the moment. Their needs were so simple. All they required to be calm and content was shelter, two meals a day, an occasional backyard sprint, and our affection. Each morning when I poured food into their bowls and watched them eat, words from the Lord’s Prayer would echo in my mind: Give us this day our daily bread. With joyful, expectant eyes turned upward, they trusted that I would provide their daily bread, reminding me in turn to trust that God would provide, as he did for the Israelites in the desert, the manna I needed for that day.
Trust in the Leash
I credit my husband with another insight into our hounds’ revelation of God’s presence. Greyhounds are sight hounds bred for hunting. The second fastest land animal next to the cheetah, they chase their prey with an amazing combination of speed and desire. This desire would get them hurt or killed out in the world of neighborhood streets were it not for the leash and the hand of the pack leader that guides it. And so it is with us and God. Left to our own devices, we humans tend to walk without direction and chase after things that appear in our field of vision, but that may not bring us the satisfaction we think they will when we’re engaged in the fury of the chase. We need God’s loving, firm hand to guide us so that we can find, counterintuitive though it may seem, our true freedom, peace, and joy in the leash.
Trust in the Suffering
Nelly is our most recent arrival. She came to us with a different rescue story than our boys, who were retired from the racetrack for minor injuries or for being too slow. Nelly, on the other hand, suffered the trauma of a badly broken right front leg. The greyhound rescue organization paid for two surgeries to save her leg from amputation and fostered Nelly during her rehabilitation. Nelly’s leg was saved, but she was left unable to bend it and walks with a pronounced limp.
I never really thought much about our boys’ past lives, but Nelly’s visible injury causes me to imagine what life may have been like for her at the racetrack. As she alternately limps and hops through our daily walk, it occurs to me that her greyhound story mirrors our own salvation story of exile, rescue, and return.
At the racetrack, Nelly was in exile from her authentic self. Originally bred to hunt, she was now literally running in circles, thinking she was pursuing the true object of her desire, when all along she was chasing an illusion – a fake rabbit. How like these racing greyhounds are we. Created by God for an authentic purpose aligned with our natural gifts, we sometimes run in circles chasing false idols. Sometimes, as in Nelly’s case, it takes a trauma or tragic blow to rescue us and bring us to our forever home. Her suffering and need for rescue is exactly what led her to our loving arms.
As I proceed on my walk, I thank God for giving us these graceful and grace-filled animals, who remind me to trust and delight in God’s provision of my basic needs; to find peace and freedom in surrender; and to recognize the many ways God rescues me every day, pointing me in the direction of my authentic purpose in service to God’s will.
Rosie Driscoll is the Coordinator of Middle and High School Faith Formation at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA, where she lives with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two greyhounds.
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