Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pooky's Cone of Shame and Cultivating Compassion


Last week my pug Pooky had a tumor removed from her eyelid. It required surgery and she ended up with some stitches. So she has been wearing an Elizabethan collar, otherwise known as the Cone of Shame as I began calling such things after seeing the movie Up a few years ago. It presents unique challenges to a pug for a couple of reasons. First of all, they have no neck so it’s really easy for her to slip out of it. I learned this from past surgeries where it lasted all of 30 minutes. But this time she has one that laces through her collar, so that problem was easily solved. The other thing about pugs is that their faces are all smooshed in, so it’s a long way from her mouth and nose to the end of the cone. I realized we were going to have to remove it for her to eat and drink, but I was surprised to discover another issue the first morning I took her out to relieve herself. She can’t poop with the collar on! That's because she can't poop without smelling the ground. So she kept walking around scooping up mud and gravel in her cone. It was quite comical in a pathetic sort of way. I had to bring her home, remove the cone, rinse it out and take her back outside unencumbered before business was accomplished.

This made me think about the way certain seemingly unrelated functions are often linked for us. I have a friend wouldn’t be able to talk if you tied her hands up.  I am so dependent on my glasses that, when I have them off, I can’t hear what someone is saying to me. Of course, there are more serious linkings in our lives. Like the way people can look around them and yet fail to see because their hearts are closed.

The problems in the world are overwhelming. You don’t have to look very hard to find abundant evidence of greed, cruelty, injustice, and just plain meanness. And yet, most folks don’t see it. Their eyes aren’t functioning properly because they have a heart problem. There is a definite link between eyes and heart. Just as there is a link between justice and compassion.

Years ago I wrote my doctoral dissertation on "Nurturing a Social Consciousness through Church Education." I had lots of wonderful theories and ideas, and they still make sense to me. But the thing I missed in my dissertation is that justice begins with compassion. I couldn't learn that in a review of literature; I learned it from experience. When people I love are treated unjustly, I am compelled to act. No one with an open heart can fail to act for justice. But how do you open a heart? How do you cultivate compassion? Only God can do that. And yet, God never does anything in a vacuum. That’s where I come in. I pray that I can be a cultivator of compassion. 

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. 

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