A couple of our neighbors were out there too, and a dog. He was a spirited, young, mid-size golden-and-something mix. I could see at a glance that the animal was agitated—like he desperately wanted to find something or someone.
Sally quickly filled me in: the dog had been seen wandering around our complex for the past few days. He was obviously a stray. Everyone had been trying to get him to come to them so they could see if he had a name tag. But the poor thing was really spooked. Every time someone got close to him, he’d run away.
They’d called him; they’d offered him food; they’d even tried cornering him. Nothing worked. The day before, Sally said, someone had called Minneapolis Animal Control, but by the time the guy arrived, the wary pooch was nowhere to
He lay down three feet behind me, let out a
big sigh and laid his head down on the grass.
Sally racked her brain for some way we could help the little guy. Eventually everyone else gave up and went back into their homes while she and I thought about what we could do.
As we watched the dog, now on the other side of the commons, I had a hunch. I asked Sally to stay where she was and to keep as still as possible. I walked very slowly about halfway to where the dog was pacing, eyeing us nervously. I didn’t know if I believed all I’d heard from PBS nature programs about avoiding eye contact with wild animals, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I kept my eyes on the ground, sat down on the curb, and just waited.
It didn’t take long. The dog started walking toward me, tentatively at first, but then more purposefully. He still slunk low, but his tail no longer tucked as tightly between his legs. He just kept coming all the way to where I sat, lay down three feet behind me, let out a big sigh and laid his head down on the grass.
Over the next few minutes, I was able to turn gradually and face the relieved animal, extend my hand and pet him. Eventually he let me attach a leash to his collar.
We are here not to dominate or exploit
Nature, but at her pleasure.
I was amazed by what had happened, but not surprised. The thing was, I knew it was going to happen. It was almost as if I’d been able to will it. And, though it’s surely presumptuous to think so, I believe there’s something to this. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I know it has something to do with faith.
This experience reinforced my conviction—despite our culture of self-reliance and control—that we are not always masters of our environment. Indeed, we are here not to dominate or exploit Nature, but at her pleasure. And part of what faith does for us is to reassure us that that’s okay.
This faith has no label; it’s not Christian, nor Buddhist, nor Muslim. In this case, it’s just knowing that if we approach the natural world around us on its own terms, with eyes, heart and spirit open, nature never fails to reward us.