Downward Dog


When Kai does the downward dog pose, with all of its authenticity, he reminds me of how I want to exist in the world – this glorious carpet of patterns and glamour.  I am usually not successful in the long, low, bow.  I usually posture, strut, lumber, wander.  But I want to do the downward dog.  I want to bend in silent awe to God’s Glory, in wonder and its inherent discretion.

To stretch and to bow at the same time seems good to me.  To face East, and bow down so that my hands are flat on the floor rather than grabbing a remote or a shopping cart or a mouse or a … well anything – would be the way to face into Advent next week.

When my dog Kai does this, he looks up at me and he heaves a big huge sigh.  “Charles, relax.  Jesus is coming.  God has this.  Stop.  Calm.  Lay here with me and we can spoon a bit and you can cool your jets.”

My dog is an icon to me of unconditional love.  He is renovating a hard childhood, some terrible church leaders and their abuse of good people including me, and the many hard choices I have made in my life – understandable but no less hard.  I am more lost than found, but at least I know that a Savior comes.  And that I need one.

Last week, the night before the parish dinner, Kai wandered out of the back yard into the night, into the city of Denver, into busy streets – a black dog at night in a city at rush hour.  He was lost.  I walked the streets and screamed for him. My imagination was painting some horrible pictures.  “Kai!”  “Kai!” “Kai!”  As I walked, house lights turned on.  People looked out through curtains.

I was wailing, sobbing, heaving great moans of loss and fear.  It was over the top.  I know that.  But it was also understandable given that Kai, my great English lab, represents comfort, acceptance and love for me.  I soon  found him.  We came home.  I fell asleep with his haunches as a pillow.  We slept.

We Americans, we need to sleep.  To rest.  To stop. Advent is not a time to prepare for Christmas.  It is a time to stop and moan some – to know we need this Savior – or else why bother?  It is a time to feel our losses and to know that the answer to Pilot’s question, to our questions, is on His way.  It is a time to be silent, wipe our tears and wait for One who comes in the night for the lost and the sad.

The smug – and there are lots in our churches – they live in the Hell they have made for themselves and I guess Jesus will deal with that at Easter.  But for now, Jesus comes to find the lost and the sad, the lonely and the bereaved, the angry and the disappointed.  And to light our darkness.  And that is worthy of a deep bow indeed.

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