Following

Max follows me around a lot.

I have noticed him tailing me from room to room more than normal, and I don’t think it is because we were away from each other for several weeks. Once, earlier in the summer, I even felt his breath on my calves as I walked to another room.

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Often he will be comfortably laying down somewhere and if I walk by to do one little thing in another room, he will get up and follow.

I felt bad when I started to notice him doing that, because I didn’t mean to disturb his rest. But then I remembered that he literally sleeps all day, so he in no way needs more rest.

We live in a small apartment so this process of passing him to go to a new room and him following happens quite frequently. Because it can get pretty annoying, especially when he stands right in my way trying to figure out how to follow me, I started wondering why he would follow me so much.

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Then, I started wondering if I follow anyone around like that. Not literally of course, that would border on stalking, but who do I turn to for answers or guidance, in what places do I get news and information, and what all influences do I actively seek out that inform me?

Honestly, my list of who and what I follow is not too much longer than Max’s. We are both creatures of habit and I find it all too comfortable to follow sources if I know where they are going and what kind of steps they are taking.

It can be uncomfortable and frustrating sometimes to allow myself to be guided by voices very different from my own, to follow them around a while and really see where they are going instead of turning away immediately.

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Max has taught me that it is important to find people to follow – we need guidance and direction. And he has taught me that it is not bad to follow sources I know and trust and am comfortable with.

But Max also taught me that it is all too easy to get stuck following the exact same kinds of people and things. And that can be problematic, because I don’t get a full picture of things. I need to experience different perspectives in order to grow. It is much less fruitful to follow one person around and around a small apartment than it is to branch out and learn from new sources.

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Max has taught me that seeking guidance by means of following diverse perspectives is humbling. Following in this wholesome way helps me turn outward to listen to others and really attend to where they are coming from and going. And it helps me nuance my own understanding of this complex world so that I can take more confident, informed steps in my own direction.

So thank you Max for trusting me enough to follow me around even when you have no clue where I am going. But more importantly, thank you for teaching me how much more enriching it is to follow diverse voices rather than one person around and around the same place.

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Hospitality

Max has been a bit of an orphan this past month. I was out of town on various trips for about 4 straight weeks and sadly could not take him with me.

But thankfully so many people were willing to take care of him.

I mean, who could resist this face, right?

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And though I missed him while we were miles away from each other, he continued to teach me about the importance of hospitality.

The people taking care of Max gave of themselves and welcomed Max into their lives. This loving action not only made my life easier, knowing that he is being taken care of, but it also made Max’s life better. He now knows so many more people love him (not that he is lacking in that awareness) and he was able to share life with them too.

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Max taught me that hospitality is welcoming people into your life (even sometimes at a moment’s notice) and caring for them. And this is something that is done not only during trips or at big events, but also in everyday life. As I greet Max every morning I can be vulnerable and give myself for him to make him feel loved. I can welcome anyone I meet throughout my day into my life and show them I care for them.

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Max taught me that hospitality is about being generous with time and life. It is about knowing that we impact our neighbors in a positive way when we open wide our doors or in a negative way when we shut them out. And while hospitality can often be most felt when we have no other doors open to us, I am learning more and more to be generously open to anyone passing by my life at any time.

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In this sense, Max taught me that hospitality is a disposition of loving openness combined with the actions of welcoming and taking time to show care to another. That can look like sharing a drink or meal, offering a listening ear, telling someone they do belong here, or even taking care of a dog for a week or two.

So thank you Max for teaching me to be more aware of the ways I can extend hospitality to all I meet. And, more importantly, thank you to all who have shown me some form of hospitality – either by taking care of Max or by the many other ways I’ve been welcomed into your lives.