God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cats and Dogs in the Peaceable Kingdom

Rocket and RiverSong
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.  The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.  The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.                                                                                                                                   Isaiah 11:1-10
Ziggy and Rocket
Rocket and Ziggy were best friends.  We brought them home the first of January 2003.  They slept together and cuddled each other and when one left the house the other looked lonely.  Ziggy got cancer and died.  Rocket was very sad.  She would meow and cry.  She would follow me everywhere and was always by my side.  The whole house missed Ziggy.  
River Song 
... A month went by and I started trolling the animal shelter websites looking at pictures of puppies.  I wanted to stop moping and I wanted Rocket to feel a little less lonely.  So one day I came across a picture of a puppy I just couldn't get out of my head.  I even started naming her.  RiverSong for Dr. Who's wife.  Her picture just spoke to me.  I looked up her breeds cattle dog and lab and thought she'll be great.  I'll have to get more exercise and she will do ok with kids and cats.  I just need to teacher her a task so she feels like she has a job.  So I made and appointment and met the puppy.  She was twirling and spinning and had the cutest speckles.  When she came into the house Rocket disappeared.  She only came out for food.  I learned that RiverSong was a CoonHound mixed with cattle dog.  After reading about Heelers I was a little worried about Rocket.  This breed hunts and sees anything as fair game outside the pack. 

Rocket walking past RiverSong to lie down.

So I made sure she was in her cage at night and didn't leave her and the cat alone in the same room while I was at work.  For RiverSong just loved to chase and catch Rocket.  
Every time she spotted her she bit her and trapped her.  Even though the internet and the vet said they should be ok together alone (they won't hunt their own pack, but neighbor kitties beware).  So gradually she started to sleep on the bed with Rocket and me, but I still was locking her in a room when we left the house.  One day I accidentally locked Rocket and River together in her room.  Rocket must have been hiding under the couch when I left for work.  Both of them were exhausted but alive and there were no piles of fur floating around.  I thought we are making progress, but RiverSong couldn't help but bite Rocket every time she went by.  But one day when I was reading, RiverSong was busy chasing Rocket and Rocket was crying like normal, but then she jumped up on the chair turned around and swatted RiverSong with her claws and the puppy cried and ran away to hide.  So I tried leaving them out together since the chewing phase was over.  There is still a lot of chasing and warning cries, but I have been known to catch Rocket licking RiverSong and RiverSong gently nibbling on Rocket's ears.  
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 
Woody Allen said, “Sure the leopard will lie down with lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”  I think Rocket probably felt that way for a long six months, when the puppy was growing into herself.  I'll keep one eye open in case that mouth with teeth comes close.  So why does Isaiah present this picture of the wolf and the lamb together, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, the child and the asp.  

The world is not a safe place.  Isaiah's vision is a vision of peace in the midst of hardship.  Life is not easy in Isaiah's world.  In Chapter 10 Isaiah tells us about Jerusalem being brought low.  The city is devastated.  Assyria has brought war and hardship to the people.  The promise of the David's dynasty has been brought low.  The kingship that the people had demanded has not succeeded.  We are left with a stump, an ending.  Hope seems far off and long ago.  Yet with this stump, a branch is growing, a new shoot will come to life.  Isaiah envisions a world with a new rule.  Someone is coming who is blessed by God and surrounded by God.  
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 
Isaiah dreams a dream of a new world.  As Walter Brueggemann says,"this is a poem about the impossible possibility of a new creation."  There will be a new beginning with a leader who is clothed in righteousness and will decide and judge for the poor and meek of the earth.  And all creation will be renewed. This vision, God's vision is of a radical new order where we will have "no hunger for injury, no need to devour, no yearning for brutal control, no passion for domination."  (Brueggemann, Isaiah 1-39, pp.98-101).  

One of the songs that I have been singing all week is "I heard the bells on Christmas Day."  This song comes from the poem Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  I love the song and hear Harry Bellafonte sing it in my head, but what I love about the song is it's angst.  How do we celebrate Christmas when in the world hate is strong and mocks the images of peace found at Christmas.  This sense of discord is even stronger in the poem.
Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,
     And with the sound
     The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 



It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
     And made forlorn
     The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 



And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said:
     "For hate is strong,
     And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"   
                                        Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow was writing at a time when it was hard to celebrate Christmas.  His wife had been tragically killed in a fire a few years before and one of his son's ran off to join the union army and fight the civil war. Longfellow twice went to care for his son once for an illness and once for wounds.  Those Christmas words of peace and good will seem hollow.  

This week as I heard the stories of stage four breast cancer, unexpected deaths in a car accident.  For some this is the first holiday without a loved one and so Christmas just brings up the pain.  I know of people struggling to find work and unable to experience the joy and hope of Christmas when they are unsure of the future.  For many of us this Christmas may be hard.  Peace and good will seem hard to come by.  

Yet...As with Isaiah, the despair turns toward hope.  The bells begin to sing of God and of right prevailing.  Those word and sense of peace now bring hope.  God wants to bring into our hardship, our sorrow, our loneliness and share a vision, a hope of peace.


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