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It's About Life


It is still dark outside this morning just two days before Christmas. The unusual cold here has softened some and it is just coolish and humid outside.

I just came back in a few moments ago after carrying my almost seventeen year old Lhasa Apso outside to do what needed taking care of. Then I lifted him and carried him back up the front stairs as they are, all four of them, are just too much for him now. I don't know if he will make it through the holidays and I can feel he is wondering too just what it is that is happening to him as he holds his paws around my neck.

His name is Gypsy because when he was little he fit into the palm of my hand and liked so much to travel about in the truck with me. His kennel name is Misha's Song. Misha was an adorable mixture of Labrador and Cocker Spaniel. His long black hair was like silk. Misha is a diminutive for Michael, and also means little bear. When he was six years old he fell victim to leukemia.

Misha was named for Michael who was a German Shepherd, totally protective of me with a thing for pancakes and drinking beer from a bottle.

All three of these dogs loved life, and me as I do them. They knew, Misha and Michael, the joy of the adventure of each new day. Gypsy is deaf, he is blind, almost toothless at this point, but I watch him sniff the air and he knows too that it is morning even though still dark and remains so now for him.

This year the tree won't have the precious heirloom ornaments because two little kittens live here now. One morning several weeks ago, I went to a town called Robert. There is a small supermarket there, immaculately kept and run by warm and friendly people. Many of the cashiers are young girls doing the work I did at their age. Well, that particular morning, one of the women who works there told me that someone had left two little kittens in the trash.

They live here now; their names are Gracia and Jesse. The older cats have accepted them as has Gypsy. There is a hound here too, lost, and not yet reunited with kith and kin.

The cats like to sit with the cockatiels as they sing along with ABBA or Gloria Estefan, their favorites.

All of these animals celebrate the blessings of life.

They have much to teach us as they share bowls of food, yes, of course, including what is on my plate.

It makes me wonder if we are too easily ready to put life in the trash heap; if we have grown too busy, too callous to sniff the morning air and know that each minute of each day holds such vast potential for adventure, for sharing, for the peace of Gloria singing about an arbolito, a little tree.

Have we forgotten that we were meant to sing along together?

To share our bowls of food?

We are at war; there is an orange alert; there are terrorists, and poverty and hunger and war all with their insatiable jaws feeding on us.

Or are we serving ourselves up to these gaping maws?

Perhaps that is the question this holiday season: what are we going to do about it?

Einstein once said something to the affect that you need a different kind of thinking to solve a problem than the kind of thinking that got you into the problem in the first place.

Let's not throw life into the trash can as each life that is thrown there diminishes all life. Let's think about that and remember what Rabbi Hillel said in the first century BCE:

If not now, when?
If not by me, by whom?

My prayers for all of us. May we learn to reflect the beauty of the Creation we were given; the wonder of each moment of life.



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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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