My little dog, Romeo, some kind of Terrier mix, just did the weirdest thing. He is covered head-to-toe in red, Georgia clay dirt. He dug a big hole in the backyard and rolled around in it, smashing his moppy face in a circular motion in the bottom of the hole, having the time of his life. He is the strangest little dog! He has lots of wild hair. The red dirt made him look like a miniature, deranged werewolf. I called my son from his studies to come and see. I could not stop laughing. Jay cracked several smiles, though he is not a fan of Romeo…well, not yet, at least. I took a video with my Iphone and shot it to Jerry at work who was very amused.
Like most of the family, I am a big dog type. We have a female, Huskie mix named Tyler. For over 14 years, the “world’s best dog,” Tanner, stood guard over our back yards, nearly as big as a Great Dane.
All of our cats and dogs are out of rescue. The kids have claimed them all as their very own. Until Romeo.
The day we brought Romeo home, I heard, “What’s that…that’s an ‘it,’” said my son. “And, it’s yours.”
Well, finally I have a dog that’s mine. All mine. Did I mention that he is probably at least part, if not all, Jack Russell Terrier? These dogs are nuts. What was I thinking?
Let’s be clear that neither my husband nor I were thinking that Saturday morning that we went to Home Depot to buy a push broom. I asked Jerry to swing by the outdoor pet adoption next door. It was a lovely summer morning, a breezy break from scorching summer heat.
“Let’s just look…the weather is so nice,” says I.
Really bad move.
I have arthritis and cannot walk the other dogs, so I was having such a good timing trotting along with this very little dog. Then the kind man who volunteers his time to care for these rescue animals, and, who was so very clever to put Romeo on a leash for me to “test drive,” well, he delivers the blow that sent Romeo home with us that day,
“He’s a lover, not a fighter.”
For goodness sake, I have fought so many battles in my life, the biggest being the battle to love well. I am a big believer in “fighting the good fight,” and hope and pray that when I pass through the door of death that my family and friends will say that I did all I could to love God through the family and life He has given me. We are all pilgrims on a journey. This is not all there is.
I write this reflection on the memorial of a saint who has helped me at moments both difficult and painful on my journey of faith, St. Therese, the “Little Flower.” So far, she has amazed me with joy and peace amidst trail and challenge. At Mass this morning, I prayed for help in my struggle to write a beautiful book about women, addiction and recovery.
While lots of wonderful little things have been happening all day, sort of coming to a peak with that nutty little dog, I still was feeling mentally low about the writing. It is part memoir and part something else. I want it to be interactive with quotes and Scripture and questions and space for the woman who is reading it to weave her story in to the book. The worst part about it is that I have to go in to my past and the many sins of my past and pray and sift and cry and laugh. Come to think of it, the worst part about it is the best part about it too. What I mean is that suffering our sins honestly with Christ not only opens wounds, but cleans and anoints those wounds too. Then, we allow real healing, a healing that then reaches out and seeks to help others do the same.
Maybe, just maybe, Romeo’s vibrant plunge in to the dirt is a little heavenly message to not fear my own dirt. Yes, there is the derangement and disorder of sin and addiction, in my own case, to alcohol, for many years…too many years. Yes, there is also the comfort and strength that comes from the Sacraments, from our brothers and sisters in Christ and from giving ourselves totally to Christ our Savior. He is Lord. I also have dedicated my writing apostolate to our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, so there is no lack of support.
An addict who accepts the graces needed to recover will, from time to time, feel acute pangs of remorse for all the loses. I praise God for my own long-term recovery. I fight with prayer spiritually every day to stay positive, to love God and to hear the lovely and loving plans He has for my life. For God so loved Sara Sullivan that He sent His only Son– that I know. That knowledge gets me out of bed every morning. These days, Romeo, being very high strung, assures an even earlier rising, as he whizzes around in his crate waking me – -wonders never cease!
For many years now, I have known in the depths of my soul that I can only give to others what I have received from God first. Christ Jesus invites us to swim in the ocean of His Love and Mercy. His mission for addicts is that they be made new persons in Him, that they know who they are as God’s beloved children brought out of sin and slavery.
My aim in the book is to appeal to all women, not necessarily those who are Catholic, though I hope there would be connections there too. I am hoping to be able to be a cultural translator of sorts, translating the beauty and majesty of Redemption in a way that engages a wide audience of women. Please pray for me.
St. Therese, pray for us!