I hand over her leash and whisper promises to be back soon, so soon, just a few hours, really, I promise. But she doesn’t believe me, instead peering at me with mournful puppy eyes, pleading to avoid the impending abandonment. I can’t explain that it’s for her own good, that she’ll be cooler in the summer sun after her haircut. I can’t explain that I’m not leaving, that I’m still here, just a few blocks away, waiting for the call that summons me back to her side. I can’t explain as she twists to watch me walk out the door, believing that now she is left behind, forgotten.
I could chalk it up to her being a dog, and shake off my guilt while I know the end result. But it doesn’t change the facts. She can’t see me and therefore thinks I don’t care. But we’re not so different, my puppy and I. How easy is it to question G-d in times of darkness, demanding answers to His absence, believing that tear laden moments found me sitting alone. And yet, I also can’t understand the greater picture. I don’t know the justifications for struggle or the glory of the finished masterpiece. And just like her, I trip into the belief that what I can’t see has ceased to exist.
In a review of the past year, I am quick to acknowledge human hugs and kind shoulders that soothed. I list family as my blessings and teachers of all kinds who splash color upon my symphony. But it’s easy for me to credit the concrete, and dismiss G-d as absent, uncaring, having bigger issues to deal with. It’s easy to forget that even when I feel the most alone, He might just be waiting outside the door, weeping in tandem, and waiting for my call to return. I know the things that I balk at are usually the very things that offer the greatest gifts. I know that my most feared deliver the largest rewards. I know when my instinct is to politely decline, to opt for my status quo, to swim only within my comfort zone, the path to a bigger life means doing the opposite. I know that climbing the challenge is for my own good, and yet I still linger at the bottom, wanting proof of the mountaintop prize before I begin my ascend.
And I know that a weaker G-d could carry me, saving me from my pain. But it wouldn’t be kind. Instead I would reach the peak with backpacks of tears, never learning how to sprinkle them by my side like wildflowers. I would never experience the thrill of independence or the rush of struggle followed by success. I would remain lame, dependent, blind to my own power and potential. But I also bet that were a ray of sunshine to illuminate my darkest moments, if I glanced around the corner, I’d find Holiness silently cheering me on, itching for the moment to rejoin my side.
I don’t walk through my days floating on air, or carry with me the constant knowledge that G-d is by my side. I often believe I have to handle it alone, deal with it myself, and gather up my broken parts to pick myself up by my bootstraps. I forget that I can ask for help. I forget that holiness shines through the eyes of loved ones. I forget that I am only truly alone if I turn my back on life. I forget that sight doesn’t prove existence, and I forget that I don’t always know what’s best for me.
So as I glance at the clock and wait to pick up my puppy, hoping to prove to her, “see? I came back. It wasn’t so bad. Aren’t you glad you went? See? I promised I’d be back and here I am.” But she’s a dog, and we’ll go through the same routine the next time I walk out the door and leave her at home.
And I hope that I remember to trust in the invisible, rely on my inner knowing, and have faith that tears might hold blessings. I hope I remember that just because I can’t see G-d, doesn’t mean that He’s not waiting around the corner, hurting for me but focused on the grander of the finished masterpiece.
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