The precious puppy died. Maybe his little life had a purpose.
On my arrival here in Guatemala two weeks ago, four busy little joyful puppies greeted me vying for my attention. They would lick the salt off my legs after I had been running; they would push to get into the house when I opened the door. Mostly they did what puppies usually do - they made me happy!
Another week went by and one started looking a little smaller than the others; his little tail didn't wag quite as vehemently; he was always the one pulling up the rear. Then Tuesday, it was me who seemed to lag behind. I got the infamous stomach bug here and I had a night of "vomitando". But I took my cipro and slept a good bit and by the morning, I felt much better. But that morning, I looked at the little puppy I had grown to love and he looked like I felt the night before. He just laid there. Couldn't bring himself to give a tail wag. He didn't have the words to complain; didn't have the assurance that of course, he would be OK. His little siblings pretty much ignored him. Maybe it was because I had been sick that I felt so especially sad for him. I wondered if he "knew" that his little life wasn't here for long. I wondered if he "felt" sad or miserable or if there was just no feeling left at all.
One of his brothers has turned out to be particularly aggressive which is good if you've been created for the purpose of being used as a guard dog. He struts around already at six weeks clearly the leader of the pack.
So the whole scene was kind of a mirror of humanity.
Yesterday, we left in the morning to work in a distant place called Sayaxche. We spent the night and came back this evening. The car door opened and sure enough there were now only three puppies. He put up a great fight but finally, he couldn't do it. Hanssel had buried him already in the backyard.
Of course, we see it all the time. We are all created so differently - some strong, some so very weak. Some live a long life and do lots of great things; others are gone before they get a chance to even make a choice about anything. But weak or strong, I guess our lives can still make great impacts - even if we're just a 6 week old puppy.
That little pup's life made a difference at least in my life. He made me smile; he made me laugh; he made me cry and he made me angry at the injustice of suffering and death before it's intended time. He reminded me of all the pain and injustice that I sometimes see here. He also reminded me how sometimes the most vulnerable can bring others the most happiness.
And then tonight I read this poem and it seemed to pull all my thoughts together. It's written by Pulitzer Prize poet, Mary Oliver
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
“Don’t ask whether you can do something!”
Today I heard an intriguing comment. We should never ask whether we can do something difficult or perhaps perceived as impossible. We should ask “HOW can we do it? It really changes the scenario, doesn’t it?
I’m sitting here this Sunday evening in Ismael’s house in Guatemala watching the “Transformer” movie with the Santos family (the family you all built the house for this year)! Their 10 year old daughter Roxanne is sitting by my side holding on to me. Oh if we could all love each other like this! Why do we have to grow up?? She follows me around, giving me kisses and hugs. She tells me her little dreams for her life– to have a puppy, to work with us when she grows up – maybe both will come true....
I think of the day we first met their family. Everything seemed so desperate….so hopeless. Instead of asking how could I do something, I asked myself if anything could be done. Fortunately, Ismael thought differently. He approached me and asked if we could raise funds for this family and he would get a house built for them. And in 2 days, you all responded!
Here we are are a few months later. They have a beautiful little “casasita”. The mom grows vegetables and fruit in her back yard. Her laundry business is growing. They now come to “church”. Church is a large group of people who come to Ismael’s backyard on Sundays to sing, praise God and study the word of God for our lives. Afterward, Orfe prepares little refreshments and everyone gets to be together. Hanssel, Ismael’s son has such a big heart. He thought it would be nice to have a “movie night” for the Santos family so here we sit with popcorn and ice cream. Life doesn’t get much better than this!
Running in Guatemala
I used to think I couldn’t spend extended time in Guate because I’d miss running too much. I used to think it would be too dangerous and there were too many cars and it was surely too hot!
You may recall that we had our “Carrera” (race for cervical cancer prevention) here in the Peten a few months ago. It was the first race I ever heard of here in the Peten. Since then, there is now a Carrera here every couple of weeks! The “first” Carrera for this and the “first” for that. It’s unbelievable! There have been so many unforeseen blessings from the work we do here – that is just one of them. Now there are lots of runners out in the mornings. The weather is a little cooler and there is plenty of room by the side of the road. I’m not usually a morning runner but running along here with the wide open space and seeing the sun rise is one of the most beautiful, peaceful ways to feel the presence of God. It is a blessing I never expected here.
This morning was my weekly “long run” – an unfortunate and painful part of preparing for a marathon! It’s one of those things that makes you wonder why you’re doing this! But this morning as I ran along, MUCHOS personas recognized me and honked and waved from their car. One little girl leaned out the window waving frantically!!! It surely made the run a whole lot less painful!
Yes, we work hard all week but today was an especially restful and peaceful Sunday. I often wonder why people ask me why I do this work. It’s not work…. It’s an outpouring of love all around that surely makes this world feel like heaven here on earth.