Daily Connector | Morning walk with the dog | Bill Plessinger

Most mornings between 6:30 and 7 am I am reminded by the pawing and whining of the dog that it is time for the morning walk. For our dog Millie, a sweet eight-ish-year-old pup of indeterminate mix and origin (we tell people she is an American Black/Brown Dog) whom we brought home from the pound, it is one of her favorite parts of the day. The rush and urgency of getting the walk done as a task to be completed before getting ready for work in a pre-pandemic world is now a more leisurely stroll or amble through North Clintonville and the area around the original site of the Columbus Zoo. A chance to enjoy nature. See the animals, hear the chirping birds, watch the deer eating carefully planted flowers in the neighbors front yards, oblivious to the plight of man. Reflect and ruminate. Sometimes without a phone, off the grid, sometimes listening to podcasts and webinars. One recent morning, I heard, “How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we”. The author is Shams al-Din Mohammad, a Persian Sufi and roaming dervish who lived at the end of the early thirteenth century. What he said then still holds true today.

My relationship with God has definitely flipped since I was a youth. In my salad days the relationship was cantankerous and adversarial. It was a reflection of the values of my old man. He possessed a brilliant mind, but was a fevered non-believer, looking for a chance to argue his perspective. It was the only way I knew. It was the only path I had ever walked.

The us and them values competition of my youth have been replaced by community and curiosity. I am influenced by those around me that show love and compassion, and I try and look for perspectives different from my own. In those perspectives you find meaning. We all need to find meaning. In meaning are the answers. FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent LaRae Quy wrote, “There may not be simple answers, but we all seek to avoid a world darkened by suffering that is meaningless.”

She also wrote, “It’s up to us. We can choose to be resilient and grow from our pain, or we can whimper as we wait for the next storm to hit, and another storm will hit in the future.” Some of the news is bleak. There are those compliant and those who rebel. Some of us are unaffected and unphased, while some are unemployed, some shiftless, some sick and suffering. I ruminate on my place in the world. In my old world, death had the final word. That is no longer the case. Both life and death have more meaning. There are no accidents. Your job is to find the meaning and live a life of purpose. A life in service of others.

Joel finished a recent sermon with the following:

“The wounds remain
In the broader circle of healing
Every part of the whole story is still there
Whatever pain and beauty has been witnessed
Whatever atonement has been made
Whatever suffering has been experienced and been afflicted
Whatever pain and grief we hold in our bodies does not simply go away
But it is invited around the table with Christ
Who shows up in the most surprising of ways
Resurrection has the final word
And we have no idea what it will look like.”

Today more than ever it is not us and them. There is no more us and them, because there is no “them”. There is only “us”. We are all in this. Everyone. No one is unaffected. It will never be perfect; it will never be enough. But we live, and we try.