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Those who serve cats and pups

It is the fifth day of Advent. When I started this Dose of the Good (and Not So Good) Words, one of my cats was sitting next to the candle burning in the Advent wreath. This reminded me of the young, small kitten I met this morning before going to work. My neighbor directly across fosters cats and kittens. This orange and white tabby was so tiny when he was found that she has been carrying him to work with her, so she can get him fed up right. She takes care of this kitten even though he, if all goes well, will go to his very own food provider once he is big enough. She takes care of him even though their relationship is temporary.

This summer I took care of a mother dog and a litter of eight puppies. Daddy and I rescued her and the pups on the day they were born. For more than two months, my life was filled with mess and emptied of sleep. For more than two months, I did not sleep through the night. The room the pups lived in is only now has let go of the last vestiges of doggie dog smells. I had help, but much of the work fell to me. It was exhausting. I just had begun working full time and had started my first class in an online graduate program (Yes, I’m going to be one of those people who end up with multiple graduate degrees). Yet, despite the difficulty, despite the fact that I had no time for art making or writing, I got deep satisfaction from taking care of the mother dog and her puppies. I did not keep one dog (though the mother dog and one of the pups live in the Bishop Family Compound, just not in my house). But I am so glad I did. I would not to always have my life be that chaotic, sleep deprived and god awful messy. But taking care of their physical needs, focusing on the daily to dos, made me feel wonderful. And though I cried like a baby when I gave the puppies to their new food providers, I also got great joy from knowing that my service was not just to those animals but also to the families who were welcoming the puppies into their homes.

I think the trick to giving good service to the world is to remember how much I benefit from it. There is a hair’s difference between service and self-indulgence. That is what makes good service so lovely.

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