Today is a day we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. To some, this is merely a day off from work or school, a trip to Grandma’s house, having a turkey dinner in the middle of the afternoon, and watching football. It’s a break from a normal routine.
For me, it means none of those things.
Lately, I have been investing my thoughts and emotions and giving my time and effort to help strangers find their lost dogs. I gave my knowledge, experience, and gut instincts away for free, for weeks. I made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and was given support and help from an entire community. I expected nothing in return. I wanted nothing in return. The only thanks I wanted was to see a dog come home.
Dax, Shadow, Nell, and Lilo finally stopped running and hiding. They came home. And I thanked God for listening and answering the prayers of our community. I did my best to give thanks and praise to others. I also found it uncomfortable to accept the compliments and praise others were giving me.
I found comfort when I was able to hold a dog name Lilo, who, I had been told, was afraid of men. I accepted her thanks as she gave me kisses on the cheek. Her gratitude put an an ear-to-ear smile on my face. She was 25 pounds of thanks and giving.
New friends, Steve and Judy, welcomed Cathy and me into their home. I accepted Shadow’s thanks of sitting beside me and trusting me to pet him for 3 hours. We gave his owners comfort in telling them details about our search for their beloved family member. Steve and Judy were honest and sincere in giving us their thanks.
Giving, for me, is not easy. Let me rephrase that. It is not easy for me emotionally. During my searches for various lost dogs, I endured a variety of emotions.
I was overwhelmed with discouragement. Where do I start looking?
During my many searches and walks in the woods, I learned to slow down. I learned to look up and around. I learned to listen for a rustling in the leaves or breaking branches. Dogs barking in the distance had new meaning for me. I learned to quiet the discursive thoughts in my mind. I learned to breathe deeply and count my blessings in quiet prayer. I learned to first give thanks for what I had, before asking for what I wanted, for the dogs to come home. I learned patience!
I learned that I was pushing too hard, trying too earnestly, and not trusting myself enough. I learned to accept that I was doing my best and I had to let God take care of the rest. Exercising patience was incredibly uncomfortable! But it was necessary.
I needed to wait, to have an opportunity to teach two young men. I brought them on a search with me. I was given an opportunity to teach them how to be quiet, to open their eyes, their ears, and their hearts to help a stranger, to help an animal. They were given a new life experience of seeing 2 lost dogs that were on the run. They wanted to give more of themselves. They understand what it meant to Be Kind, Be Thankful, and Be Significant.
And that was the lesson I learned about Thanksgiving. When I am kind, when I am thankful, I will be significant! Maybe not to the world at large, but to a dog, to it’s owner, to a stranger and to myself.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.