Charlie
Posted on August 1, 2016

I have been less than diligent in keeping up with my blogs. I apologize. It is summer, and I’ve been vacationing a bit. Slothfulness is dangerous business. The more you give into it, the most pervasive it becomes. Likewise, there have been staffing changes that have demanded a bit more of my time and attention. I can come up with numerous others excuses, I suppose, but you’re not interested in reading those. Excuses are not reasons. I apologize. I’ll do better.

Meanwhile I’ve been reflecting a lot on what matters. These last two weeks have been sort of vacation. I use the phrase “sort of” because I’ve been doing a fair amount of work: sermon writing, worship planning for the reminder of 2016, preparations for a Board Retreat this coming Saturday, trying to keep up with e-mails, and plodding away at a manuscript that I signed a contract to deliver and, therefore, have to deliver. But, amid all that there has been some good, relaxing time with family and friends... and some baseball games... and a lot of swimming... and way too much eating. During that R&R time, I have been thinking a lot about life in this world, and the frightening events that are sadly constant, and human relationships, and what we can do to make sense of things.

Some of that thinking has been the result of losing Charlie. Charlie Brown (as in the Peanuts character), a Cavalier, was our puppy for ten years. He died this summer. He was, I think, the sweetest, most gentle-natured creature I have ever known. Charlie didn’t even know how to growl. In late June I left the apartment for Marble one morning, having given Charlie (and his sister, Hope) their morning cookies. He was the same as ever – wagging his tail, trotting around after me, hungry and happy. By that night, he was gone as the result of a heart condition we thought was being controlled by medications. It’s not the same as losing a person. I understand that. But, losing a pet is its own kind of grief. You love them. They love you (unconditionally, by the way). When they leave, you grieve.

Anyway, I have been thinking about Charlie. His life and needs were simple. He longed for food and friendship. That was it. He wanted to be fed, and he wanted to be close to somebody all the time, especially if that somebody was Page. But if Page were not around, I would do. Anybody would do. He just wanted to love and be loved.

What if we humans could learn those lessons – the lessons of simplicity, prioritization, and relationships? What if we all found a passion (unlike Charlie, perhaps gluttony is not the best suggestion – but, maybe Art? Theater? Literature? Nature? Sports? Helping people who cannot help themselves, like the hungry, the homeless, the victimized, the very young or very old?) What if we all found a noble passion and gave ourselves to it?

And, what if we all had one other priority, as Charlie did – to simply live in positive relationship with others? Not to judge, not to critique, not to distrust, not to pigeon-hole or isolate, not to demean, but just to enjoy? People can be a lot of fun, given the chance. What if we simply gave one another the chance to be who they are and to be in relationship with us as we are?

Headlines reveal our divisiveness. Violent acts reveal our divisiveness. The political campaign reveals our divisiveness. Religious intolerance reveals our divisiveness. Charlie was smarter than that. He didn’t think a person had to look a certain way or talk a certain way or love a certain individual of be of a certain color or have a certain amount in the bank or vote for a certain party to be of value. He thought people were okay just because they were people, and that was enough. Wouldn’t it be great if the rest of us would finally figure that out?

There’s an old adage: “It’s a dog’s life.” It was meant to be a negative commentary on existence. But, I’m not so sure it is. If we could all learn what Charlie instinctively knew, this world of ours just might turn around. Find a noble passion (a worthy cause), and throw yourself into it... and open yourself up to people (all people) and celebrate relationships. Two simple things. But, if we all would begin doing just those two things today, what a different world this would be tomorrow.

Thanks, Charlie. We miss you. Wherever you are, eat well, play happily, and keep loving. And know that the joy you brought us and the lessons you taught us live on.

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