Prayer and the Cattledog

DSC00933I’ve mentioned that I’m getting serious about some spiritual practices. I am reading the Bible cover to cover this year, so that daily reading is my non-negotiable practice. In the evenings, I’m reading a couple meaty devotionals. Those are regular, but on nights when my husband is home (weekends), they don’t happen. And then I’m also learning about prayer.

Prayer requires some discipline. Distractions need to be minimal. It takes time. Clearing my head of everything around me isn’t easy. I’m a writer, so my head is full of words and stories, where prayer, while made of words, isn’t made of the random storytelling, blog-writing words. It takes focus and concentration to speak to God and listen for his answers.

But I love it. My house is normally quiet, so that part isn’t hard. When my kids were small it would have been another story, but I’m at the quieter end of my existence now. I write with music in the background, but I turn that off for prayer. I find a time of day when nobody is conversing in the kitchen, when nobody has a TV on, and I take a tiny retreat, God and me.

When I first added some serious prayer time to my disciplines, I had a vision of doing it in the morning, when nobody was up, the day was new, before I had a chance to get bogged down in whatever the day brought. However, I forgot one little detail. Her name is Skye.

We have two dogs. Sparrow is a two year-old Chihuahua who is my shadow and my tiny protector. Skye is a six month-old mini Australian Cattledog. Mini as in 13 pounds, not mini as in energy. I have no doubt she could still herd cattle if they showed up in our back yard. She loves life, people, Sparrow, our cats, dirt, food, and especially mornings. She LOVES mornings. That’s when she races in circles, leaps on furniture and people, dances, spins, and simply basks in the extreme wonderfulness of another day. I imagine God grinning every morning as Skye greets his new day with such intense joy.

My first prayer morning was spent on the couch deflecting the dog. I close my eyes to clear my head, so I could hear her coming before I felt her leap into my lap, licking my cheek or ear or hand with pure excitement. She was so excited I was up she couldn’t contain herself. Eventually I calmed her down, so she and Sparrow were both sprawling in my lap, only after three seconds she reached out her snout and bit Sparrow, a nip of Hey, friend, let’s play. Sparrow responded with his own nip: You’re on. Snarling ensued, which sounds vicious but isn’t. My lap became ground zero for mighty warriors showing their stuff. A prayer book flew to the floor, the dogs looked at me startled as though wondering why I was throwing things, and I realized perhaps early morning wasn’t the best time for this. Not until Skye grows up and learns some manners.

Now my prayer time with God happens mid-afternoon or early evening, depending on when the dogs are asleep. I plan to talk more about it, because I love what happens during those retreats between God and me. However, it didn’t start well, and it didn’t start easily. It still isn’t easy, because in the quiet I see so many truths about myself, not all good, and about God, ALL good, and what he wants for me versus what I want for me…the list goes on. But that’s the future. Today it’s simply the tale of a dog who reminded me that every morning is awesome, that I need to be flexible because my plans aren’t always the right way, and sometimes it’s best to keep one’s eyes open, or one might get one’s ear licked. It’s a lesson I know all of you needed today.

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