It happened again. A strange dog showed up, fought for a place in our canine society, won a position in our hearts and eventfully was claimed by owners who took him home. But probably not to stay. He’ll be back. For several years running we have been the beneficiaries of other people’s unwanted or un-cared for animals. Some people simply drop them off and let nature take its course. Since we are soft-hearted, we generally allow the animals to find their place among our menagerie and life moves on. When the older generation passes on, I never worry about replacement. I know new life will find us.
Why are so many animals attracted to this four acres of land? I suspect for the same reason that dogs have been known to break free of every cage their owners can devise in order to return here. They love to be in friendly society. They discover that they can make inroads into our heats and thus they’ll return again and again. The yearning hope for a loving home is irresistible.
In reading an article about the consecrated life in the Springfield, IL Catholic Times this week, I read something which clarified the issue for me. Bishop Paprocki quoted in his article Consecrated life: means by which the Holy Spirit builds up church an article written by William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal, in which sister Bethany reflects that they have “the security of knowing that they are loved…” by God, by their community as well as by their family. The Bishop reflects on McGurin’s interest in the consecrated life. He expounds on the theme by thanking the men and women who have dedicated their lives to a consecrated expression of love toward God and their fellow human beings.
Why do people have an attraction to consecrated life? Why do people strive to connect in this way? What makes dogs traverse danger and distance to find a place in someone else’s home? Animals, like people, are looking for security and a sense that they belong. We are looking to be loved. But I suspect, even more, we are looking for people to love. You’d think that would be easy. But in this world, not so much. Loving involves tremendous risk. It involves intimacy and trust. Many people look to be loved without realizing that what they really want is a safe person to love.
I can’t accept every animal that comes for a visit. Certain critters have to be openly discouraged from hanging around. Rats and skunks I can’t trust. But more often than not, I am flattered that animals show up, year after year, discovering a place they can love and be loved. And I, in turn, discover that I love isn’t a limited commodity. There is enough to go around.
Perhaps I haven’t joined a consecrated order in name, but I’d say that I that by loving God, consecration to a loving life comes naturally.