Near the end of our June retreat at Mepkin Abbey, I said, "I'm going to go home and love my husband the way we all love the monastery dog."
When I first met the monastery dog, I felt sorry for her. I heard the story about how she appeared at the monastery in very bad shape, with a chain around her neck. The monks took her in and taught her to trust the humans that show up at the monastery.
When I first met the dog, I thought about all the children who would never be part of her world. But she has a never-ending supply of visitors who would likely pet her. The monks take care of her.
I'm intrigued by how most people respond to the dog. Almost everyone pets her head as she comes up to them with her wagging tail. Many people kneel her level, all the better to be with her. She seems to put most people in a better mood, and they respond to her accordingly.
She makes it easy to love her, in a way that humans don't always. But how would the world change if we treated each and every human in the loving, soothing way that we treat the monastery dog?
I've had similar insights as I've watched toddlers move through the world. I remember seeing a toddler in the process of having a crying meltdown in the parking lot--I'll never forget seeing the adult who was with her drop to her knees and talk in soothing tones. It was so different than the way adults usually treat a child in the midst of a meltdown.
If we treated everyone that way, what a better world we would live in!
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