Tag Archives: gratitude

on tiggers, gracias, and grace

Were I to have set out to obtain a canine companion – which I most decidedly did not do – I could not have chosen for myself a better match than the four-legged ball of brown fur and wagging tail that chose me. Truly.

For a long while I had ‘wanted’ a dog – like someone ‘wants’ something that is just out of reach, but always desirable.

But, faced with the practicalities of life, I didn’t put any action into actually obtaining that which I believed I wanted. But clearly someone heard. Clearly some intention was communicated out beyond the confines of my small self, to a world beyond that heard, listened, and responded – or maybe it was all just chance, coincidence, luck. I prefer to believe in serendipity.

Granted, at the time of the fluff ball’s arrival I was not so convinced – how can I possibly have a dog, I asked myself, and anyone who would listen. Until one day about a week into the adventure a friend pointed out that, having purchased a stylish matching leash and collar, it appeared that I had, in fact, admitted that I did, actually, have a dog.

But I don’t have a life for a dog, I protested, rather futilely, as the canine began to slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, to rearrange the life that I thought I had so well ordered.

Three years and some weeks later, I cannot imagine life without that dog in it. Yes, I do have a fairly crazy life for someone who now has not just a dog, but two cats as well. But there are ways of figuring those things out. The joy that creature brings to my life – and I chose the word joy intentionally – far outweighs the hassle of figuring out what to do with her when life takes me away from home and into the world.

She loves to play fetch. She loves the ocean. She loves running on the beach, chasing the birds, chasing the frisbee. She loves to swim. She looks like a bit like a coyote, my favorite animal as a child and the subject of my fourth grade report on an animal – any animal – of my choice.  She has mellowed out somewhat, from those first months, thankfully, and now sleeps peacefully nearby while I sit to write this.

I named her based on her high energy and her propensity for jumping – Tigger, was what a friend on facebook suggested – and it stuck.

But had I given her a name based on her place in my life, for her role rather than her behavior, there is one name that would have transcended all others – gift. Or perhaps grace. For that which I could not actually accomplish on my own, was graciously given to me. What I wanted, but couldn’t find the space or the way to encounter, appeared on my porch without the slightest action or initiation on my part – other than to allow her to stay.

In the debate about baptism in the Christian church (trust me, you didn’t miss a paragraph or a page here, this will relate, shortly) there is a discussion of whether or not one should be baptized as a baby or as an adult. “You should be an adult,” many will say, “for only an adult can make a decision on an important matter such as this.” The emphasis is on the importance of belief, the importance of acknowledging, accepting and embracing that which one believes to be true. That is a good and reasonable rationale.

But there is also the conviction, held just as strongly, that being baptized as an infant, an infant who has no choice in the matter, is just as valid a form of baptism as that of an adult. “Being baptized as an infant,” the reasoning goes, “shows us in a tangible way that God chooses us before we can even know what that means – that God’s love and graciousness are offered to us freely, long before we know how to respond.”

Not all that unlike a dog – the perfect dog for us really – who shows up one day on the porch without any decision, action, or belief on our part, and proceeds to begin a transformation of life as it had previously been known.

A gift, freely and graciously given – a gift that we are invited to receive. And feed.

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lost in translation…

Whenever I travel I like to learn at least a few words in the local language. To me, it is a sign of respect to chose to at least try and communicate in the language of my host country. So, for instance, in Korean I can say good morning and delicious – in addition to milk and apple, but that’s another story. In Arabic I can say thank you, hello, how are you and God bless you. The list goes on.

So, when I was in Japan this past week I wanted to pick up at least a few words. I did realize that I already had some simply from pop culture – sayonara, and domo arigato (mr. Roboto) amongst them. But there were nuances that I wanted to pick up – instead of simply thank you, what about thank you very much, or thank you in a respectful way. Instead of just hello, what about a greeting with respect.

I thought I was doing fairly well, considering I speak basically no Japanese.

That is, until I got home and realized that rather than saying good morning I was actually walking around saying, thank you very much. Which, it seems, is actually not a bad way to greet the world – especially as we in the United States celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday.

So, good morning. And thank you very much.

today – chairs, chile rellenos, fear and gratitude

I love my life. I don’t say that with a desire to boast, but merely to celebrate, and, I realize, to stand back in some amount of amazement at the way continues to play out. I think the word for that is probably gratitude, though that can sound so ‘heavy’…sometimes it is less heavy, and more like it gives me a chuckle.

Like today.

I won’t give you the entire play by play (like that I woke up, had my morning coffee, then my oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond milk and toasted walnuts–see, you shouldn’t trust me!) but rather just my walk to lunch.

I was set to meet a friend at Maganas for lunch. I decided that I’d walk. On my way out the door I put out my empty ‘garafon’ (5 gallon plastic water bottle) since Friday is the day that the water bottle truck delivers–taking the empty, and leaving a full one in its place. All for the whopping price of 12 pesos, or about $1.

As I was doing so, I saw my neighbor, who asked about ‘Not Church‘ and so we chatted awhile about it. I told him I had to be on my way, and continued down the path by the side of the house. As I walked, another neighbor, well, actually son in law of a neighbor, yelled down hello, and wondered when I was going to play spite and malice with them. Spite and malice happens to be a card game that I learned as a young girl, a card game, which, as it happens, I played, with my grandma, at the very table on which my laptop sits as I type this.

Another friend and neighbor heard us yelling back and forth, and yelled down a hello as I continued my way down to the ‘river road,’ now wondering if I’d be late to Maganas. As I walked down the river road past El Rancho Exilio, I saw Emilio there, working on these wood chairs he makes by hand. We chatted a bit, and before I knew it I had agreed to buy two of the chairs–‘segundas’ if you will, for a good price, because his brother had accidentally run over them. “They still work–I fixed them,” said Emilio. “Okay, sounds good,” I answered as I tried to keep walking toward my actual destination of lunch.

I did have one errand planned on the way–to stop by the clinic and see Dr. Sarah. I was hoping she could give me some tips on fending off ‘bugs’ while traveling, and also a surgical mask to wear on the plane, just in case. In exchange for the appointment at the clinic I had brought her a beet, carrot, and some swiss chard, fresh from the garden. Since I was running late and so was she, I told her I’d come back by after lunch.

Finally I made it to Mangas at 12:01pm, only one minute late, which is, when you think about it, not really late at all. It had only taken me 45 minutes to get there–a walk of about one and a quarter miles, that normally takes less than half that time.

Becky and I had lunch together, and talked about the new community center that she and her husband Mike are opening as part of Vida Outreach. After a yummy lunch of chile rellenos I headed back to the clinic to meet with Sarah and get my necessary trip provisions, as well as a lecture about wiping down my tray and armrests when I get on the plane (so she’s that person I sat next to recently who ‘sanitized’ all items near her when she took her seat!) and not to put my fingers in my mouth. Next time I’m going to have to bring more vegetables in payment.

When I got home I found that the water truck had come–my new full garafon was waiting on the patio for me, as were my two new chairs, and a small table, handmade by Emilio.

I went out into the garden to pick some veggies (chard, carrot, beet, kale, tomato) to make a ‘green juice’ and sat down to write this.

So, yes, I love my life. I love the craziness of a day that can turn a lunch appointment into nostalgia over old card games, new chairs, a germ lecture, and water delivery. I love that I have time for such ‘distractions’ and am not so busy that I can’t appreciate them or have time for them. For that, I am thankful.

And now, on this Friday afternoon, I’m off to Splash for an 80 peso ($5.89) car wash, and likely a nego model and ceviche tostada that will put me back another $2.50, total.

People in the US always ask me, living in Baja, if I am afraid. What I’m realizing is, I’m actually becoming more and more afraid–afraid that this place has rooted itself so deeply within me that it may be hard to ever leave.