Lovin’ – Doggy Style

It seems like every week I am reminded how crazy and tragic this world is. I continue to look for ways to process what all is going on and learn how better to respond, but I recognize that I still don’t have anything super profound to say in the wake of the turmoil in our world. And sadly Max cannot teach me anything directly about how to respond to deep, systemic inequality and unjust killing. I think if he could understand those realities, he would have something really good to teach.

And yet, during the past couple of weeks I have come across this quote from a monk who lived a very long time ago. Abba Xanthias said, “A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge.”

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I have been struck by how true that statement is and how often Max has taught me that lesson. Max truly loves everyone he comes across no matter what.

Several weeks ago, Max and I spent the weekend with a bunch of new friends, human and canine alike. At this retreat, Max demonstrated how great he is at warmly welcoming people into his life. He went up to everyone, doing his best to share his love and joy. And he’s really good at such behavior because he acts that way with everyone in his life.

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Max breaks boundaries between himself and others with a joyous openness. He does not hesitate or discriminate. He has love and does not judge. It takes a lot to be around him and not know that he wants to be a part of your life.

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I like to say and think that I love everyone, but I have a long way to go to even reach the level of non-judgmental love that Max demonstrates. I naturally and quickly judge whether someone is worthy of my love and time, unlike Max who freely offers his loving presence to everyone. I often wait until people prove that I should love them, instead of working from the assumption that all people do deserve love no matter what they’ve done, an assumption that Max (if dogs even make assumptions) must surely operate from.

Ultimately, Max goes into every situation looking for ways to give and share love and I am sure that if he had his way, his normal routine would be broken wide open in order to interact with more and more creatures in that way.

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Max has taught me that loving non-judgmentally is possible, as long as I work on being more open and receptive to everyone I meet. Moreover, he has taught me that it means going out of my normal routine and seeking out new opportunities to show others love. He has taught me that it means being quick to accept others and long in getting to know them.

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I look forward to observing Max over the next several weeks and learning more specifically how he cultivates that disposition of non-judgmental love and how he lives it out in specific ways.

So thank you Max for continually teaching me how to better love all people. And thank you for pushing me to love in the non-judgmental way you do.