Interruption or Invitation
The Wisdom of Dog
“Do you have a minute?” may be the most common intrusion offered by humans who seek instant gratification, quick and easy answers or are just in need of a social connection. Yet the siren call of technology is even more disruptive as dings and rings fill all private and public air space.
Staying focused, being mindful, practicing consciousness may seem relegated to the few monks or nuns who remain in almost empty enclaves of prayer, yet such a practice is the opportunity for any emerging spiritual being for learning how to translate chaos into contemplation and interruption into invitation.
Many years ago one of my favorite and prolific authors, Father Henri Nouwen told a story of how walking across the campus of the university where he taught was burdensome as students would always stop him on his way to his writing. He found the interruptions to his thoughts and determination to meet a deadline to be invasive and problematic yet his students wanted to consistently engage him in questions and dialogue. It was during one of those encounters that he suddenly realized that these discussions were not an interruption to his work. In fact, they were his work as it was from just such engagements that many of his ideas would evolve.
I just experienced a scratch on the outside glass door to my writing room and office. It is dark outside still and the intruder is not visible, yet I know who it is and what it means. Beaufort, our male Golden Retriever is just following his routine after having been let out an hour earlier. By completing “his business,” he now seeks the warmth and comfort of my space where he will enter and say, in his own way, “Do you have a minute?”
His expectations are instead, for much less time and for some simple rubbing and loving so that he can then take his regular spot in front of my couch where he will return to what he does so well – sleep. Likewise, I return to the writing of these thoughts and to ponder: Was that just an interruption – or a most coincidental invitation?
Did the 30 seconds I just gave our beloved dog who never fails to give in return really disrupt my “self imposed busy schedule,” or was it just an invitation to enhance my outcome by remembering what is most important?
Although being busy is the plague of our modern society, we ironically seem to equate it with status. Beaufort, in contrast, does not get caught up in such foolishness and instead invites me to remember that busy is boorish and to just be present – just for a moment to tell him that he is handsome –and that he is loved. And that’s all. He can then take a nap.
I will be cautious not to interrupt him as I step over my furry loving teacher as I continue to learn from his invitation – on my way to a morning nap for me.