Ex 22:20-26
1 Thes 1:5c-10
Mt 22:34-40

“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Every night when I return home from work our two dogs, Hannah and Emmie, greet me at the door. If it is around 5 pm and they haven’t been fed there is a primal motive preceding their relationship motive for their greetings. In that case, they trot their way over to their dog beds and wait for me to fill their bowls with clean water and delicious dog food.

On the nights when they have already been fed, they greet me with the same enthusiasm and wait for me to change into my “play clothes.” It doesn’t matter what happened between me and them in the morning nor does it matter whether I come home full of energy or needing to be recharged…they are there! They are predictable in unconditional love and they are steadfast in their waiting for me to catch up to their dog time and dog schedule.

So what does this have to do with the readings for Sunday the 26th of October? Everything! These dogs have an amazing ability to take in love that is directed toward them. I have never once had either of them say through their dog response to my affectionate… “No really, sorry, don’t pet me I got too much yesterday! Please don’t call me to be your walking buddy today, I would rather watch television!” I think that God, in God’s goodness is there steadily waiting for us, not like Hannah or Emmie, but with even more graciousness than them. God knows the love available in our hearts before we even know what’s on the shelves of our hearts.

God knows the wealth of our light within our thoughts and knowings. Like Hannah and Emmie, God waits for us to discover it within and takes delight when we move out beyond ourselves.

I wonder if we are called to love ourselves as our neighbors so that we can become aware of all that is within us. When I take the girls to the park to run and throw the ball, Emmie starts her “Run for the ball shuffle,” even before I take her lease off so that she can run. She knows what is awaiting her. She knows the smell of the earth and the markers that say, this is my ball chasing park.

I am different from her. I am a bit reluctant to do the “chase the ball shuffle” even if the current situation has all of the markers for joy and pleasure. I am careful not to have the expectation that wonderful things are going to happen. I am grateful when they do happen, yet I guard my expectation until the goodness actually presents its face.

What would life be like if I really loved God with my all my heart, soul and mind? What would it be like if I tapped into the depths of self love from that same place of abundance and dared to live daily the “chase the ball shuffle…?” I don’t know, I may have to give up some of my need to control the unknown, to be open to the possibility of ongoing abundance, to dance with instead of wrestle with the transforming power of God’s love; A love that is rooted in the cells of my very being…dare I? Why not!