Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day Seven & Eight: Doggie Drama & Human Nature

I lost track of time Tuesday morning and had to eat a whole bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with banana slices in about three minutes flat.  My children were impressed.

In addition to developing that new skill to add to my resume, we also had some doggie drama Tuesday. Our old, blind, and deaf cocker spaniel disappeared some time Monday evening.  She is beloved by one neighbor family in particular - they give her doggie treats whenever she shows up and even have food, water, and a comfy box set up with an old blanket for her on their back porch - so we figured she was spending the night with them as she's done a time or two before and didn't worry too much.  But she still hadn't come home in the morning.  So Gene walked the neighborhood and drove up and down the highway, I called all the neighbors whose phone numbers I had and knocked on the doors of those whose numbers I didn't have and posted a lost dog report on the county animal services website (including contact info).  I was afraid she was gone for good.

(Now, this is the same dog who wandered off while we were camping and huckleberry-picking in eastern Oregon, got picked up by some concerned dog lovers and taken to the nearest town - in the complete opposite direction from home, of course.  Some other dog lovers in town volunteered to take care of her until someone could come get her.  Gene's folks were able to pick her up a couple of days later and we finally got her back after another four weeks or so.  I figured she'd used up all her good canine karma on that high adventure.  O, me of little faith...)

A couple of hours later, I got a call from a stranger: a sweet Good Samaritan named Debbie.  She said that she'd seen my posting on the Spokane County website and noticed a dog on Spokane city's website that seemed to match the description.  I checked it out online and it sure looked like our Sage (though they thought she was only 9 years old and had her under the name "Clover" - at least it was another plant-related moniker). So I called Gene, who was just finishing up work, and he went down to the city shelter to bail her out of doggy jail. The shelter verified her license with the county and her rabies shot with our vet, charged us $35 ("So what exactly does my license fee pay for then?!?" asked my husband...) and gave us back our dog.

Here's the strange thing...she was found Tuesday morning wandering around the parking garage at Northtown Mall - between six and seven miles away from our house!  With her age and difficulty getting around, especially in the snow, that seems like a long way for her to travel on her own in about twelve hours.  Our working theory is that she may have gotten down to the end of our street or even onto the highway where someone thought she was cute and sweet and picked her up.  Then as they were driving along they started to realize that a) she was old, b) she didn't see or hear well, and/or c) she can get pretty stinky in close quarters.  So they let her out at the mall.  While we have no way of knowing what really happened, and I hate the thought that anyone would be that thoughtless and cruel, I was gratified by the sheer number of people who were concerned about her and wanted to help her find her way home.  It buoys my hope in humanity when a single act of cruelty or thoughtlessness is so outweighed by the kindnesses of so many others: the Good Samaritan Debbie I mentioned above, the folks at Spokanimal, all our neighbors. A woman who lived close to the mall - I believe the person who found her and called Spokanimal - actually posted about her on craigslist hoping to alert her family.  Another woman who saw the craigslist posting matched it to the Spokanimal impound list and called to make sure we'd found her.  There are a lot of good, kind-hearted people in this world.

But back to more directly Ramadan-related stuff...I wanted to briefly highlight a book I read a little more than a year ago, Why I Am a Muslim by Asma Gull Hasan (read my goodreads review here).  I especially appreciated her attention to breaking down myths and stereotypes about her faith and her delineation between the doctrines of Islam and cultural traditions that have grown up around those doctrines (a delineation that I think those of all faiths, including my own, ought to consider frequently).  One point of doctrine that I learned from Ms. Hasan is that of fitra.  Fitra is the idea that everyone is born Muslim in the sense that "we are born wanting to submit to God's will, that we are all born innocent and able to recognize right from wrong."  (In related news, the word Islam itself means "voluntary submission to God.")  I struggle sometimes with reconciling the tension between the dueling concepts of our "divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) as children of heavenly parents and "the natural man" so castigated by Mosiah (chapter 3, verse 19 - read it in context here).  Fitra is a repudiation of "original sin" and provides such a positive and an encouraging picture of human nature, which I think our doggie drama of yesterday bears out.

One more story.  This morning as I was eating my breakfast, I mentioned to Will that I had to hurry because I only had about 10 minutes left until my fast started.  He asked, "What's the point of fasting, anyway?"  So on the fly, I gave him three "points" of fasting.
* First of all, fasting helps us learn self-control.  We can do hard things, and deny ourselves things, even when we don't want to.
* Secondly, fasting helps us focus on God.  It's something we do because He's asked us to and, especially when coupled with prayer, it shows our desire to draw closer to Him.
* Thirdly, fasting helps to turn our hearts to others.  Every time my stomach grumbles, I can remember those who are hungry not by choice, but by lack of the necessities of life.  Both Latter-day Saints and Muslims (and other faiths, I assume) closely link fasting with alms-giving.

How would you have answered Will?

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