Recently we took care of a rescued 12 week old puppy for one day and night. My heart was grieving for the puppy because she had abandonment issues of some sort. She wanted to be right next to me touching me, or for me to hold her. And, when I held her, she would wrap her paws aroung my neck or my arm to stay close as though to say, “please don’t leave me!”
Due to our semi-hermetical way of life we couldn’t keep her, so it was heartbreaking to bring her to the pound in hopes that someone else would be able to give her the time and attention she needed.
She would look into my eyes with her beautiful light green eyes, just wanting to connect and bond. This puppy allowed her vulnerable heart to be exposed to me. She didn’t have thick walls up, acting as though she didn’t need me. She was real and let her needs be known.
This led me to reflect on my own heart and how I at one time was closed off, not being real about my needs and longings for love, communion and connection. Though this was probably a good protection at the time, because I didn’t have God in my life; and had I let my guard down then, it may have resulted in a disordered search for fulfillment in creatures.
But even after my huge reversion to Mother Church, after experiencing God in a personal way, in the beginning I remained closed off and not in touch with the deeper needs of my heart. I thought the right and holy thing to do was die to all my deep longings and desires (rightly ordered and disordered), pushing them down as though they no longer existed; because God had redeemed me.
But, this mentality and dispostion couldn’t last very long because at the heart of my conversion was the Immaculate Heart of Mary and my consecration to her, which I sought to live out daily.
Our Mother began leading me to get in touch with my deeper heart and feelings. It didn’t take long before I began finding myself acting like that little puppy with Mary. The more I opened my heart, the more I recognized my great need to be deeply loved and deeply known and accepted just for who I was, with no masks on.
And, Mary very quickly began leading me to Jesus, especially present in the Eucharist, to cling to Him, with, in and through her. The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is very fitting here; because I truly felt like Jesus in this picture, and still do. In fact I’m just reminded of a number of years ago when a sister made a Christmas card for me with Our Lady of Perpetual Help on it; and she cut Jesus out and put a picture of me in His place. Confirmation of my point.
I find myself grateful for the many graces our Lord has poured out upon me through our Mother’s intercession. But I find my heart still grieving for the many who have not discovered this great secret to receiving God’s love into those deepest recesses of “eros” longing within our hearts and souls. Pope Benedict speaks of this longing and our need to dispose ourselves at the core, to the infinite love of God which alone can fully sate us.
“Eros, at its deepest level, is the desire within us that ‘seeks God” (Benedict – Deus Caritas Est).
As well, I find my heart still grieving, not only for this precious, needy puppy, but for all of creation that “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth” as it awaits our redemption (Rom 8:22). For it is due to our fallen nature, and our continuing the sin of Adam and Eve, by living our own human will rather than seeking to live the Divine Will of God, that all of creation suffers. There were no wounded puppies, no diseased plants, no dirty rivers, etc., in the Garden of Eden before the fall.
Many don’t realize that every thing we do that is not in God’s Divine Will, affects all of creation in a negative way. On the other hand, every time we seek to do God’s Divine Will in our lives, we affect all of creation in a postive way.
That being so, even those who are pushing for humane animal rights, trying to “save the whales,” preserve the forests and the like, do damage to the causes they are fighting for if they aren’t seeking to live God’s will in their lives. I believe this point of view goes right along with what Pope Francis is trying to communicate in his encyclical: Laudato si – On Care for Our Common Home. We are called to be in harmony with all of creation, but all in right order with God at the center and all of us surrender to Him as His children, as we strive to receive His love, seek His Will and see all of creation as a gift from Him.
May we all have the grace this day to be aware of our deepest needs and longings, as the little puppy was, and dispose those areas in our hearts and lives to the love and grace of the Holy Trinity. For the whole purpose of our Baptismal vows is to grow in deep and intimate communion of life with our Triune God who already dwell within us through Baptism; we may just have them locked up in a closet somewhere.
“Unless you be like children you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mat 18:3).