Advent Devotion Sixteen 12/14/15

We have a beloved Newfoundland dog. His name is Fergus. He is ten and a half years old and weighs 136 pounds. He is black with white on the chest and one white paw. True to his breed, he is devoted and obedient.

Maybe because of his size combined with his even temperament, I don’t think I have ever seen Fergus scared. I haven’t seen him cower or hang his head in shame. He has no need to. He’s not bothered by storms or lightening. Loud noises don’t disturb him. But once in a while, something goes on that he is not keen about. I may be brushing him and he’s tired of being brushed. Or one of our other dogs comes into the room and he doesn’t want to be part of a crowd. Or our little dog, Andre, will try to lick his face, which he finds annoying.

And what does Fergus do when he is not pleased with what is going on? I have never heard him bark or snarl in anger or hostility. I have never seen him nip another dog and certainly not a person. I have not seen him growl. When Fergus does not like what is going on, he gets up and moves. He walks away. He then finds a quiet place and lays down, minding his own business.

This is a good thing to remember when we think about Wonder-Full peace. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. Remove yourself from the situation. There may be times in a hostile situation that constructive progress just cannot be made at that moment. So, rather than notching up the tension, stepping out of the situation, at least temporarily, may be the best option. Maybe after a breather, progress can be made in resolving the situation. There may then be a time to re-engage and move forward.

When we think about working for peace, we realize that we cannot control other people and sometimes it is hard to control ourselves. Walking away, cooling off, getting some distance and perspective may be the best way to eventually move toward reconciliation.

Is there a time when you walked away? Later, how did you feel about that? Looking back, is there a time when you wish you had disengaged from a difficult situation?

Prayer: We want to be people of courage making a constructive contribution to the world. We want to be peacemakers. We pray for discernment to know when the best course of action is to take a break and disengage. Sometimes we need to give ourselves time to get re-centered, to regain our strength of purpose, to cool our anger and fuel our compassion. We pray for the perseverance to continue seeking reconciliation where it is needed in our lives and in the world. Amen.

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