Thursday Reflection 5.9.19

Be Aware of What You Cannot See
It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it is unsettling. Very early in the morning one day last week, I was already showered, dressed, had my zillionth cup of coffee and was just revisiting (for the nth time) the coming Sunday’s sermon. From upstairs and without warning, I began to hear the definite “protective – as in, don’t mess with me” growl that Abby rarely displays. That murmuring grumble exploded into ferocious barks – her “I’m in charge and will protect you” pitch which ended in her racing downstairs and glaring out the windows into the still dark yard.
Now I have no idea what she heard or smelled or thought she perceived. As far as I know, it may have been a neighbor’s cat, or Godzilla on a detour from Tokyo, or even the first wave of the invasion of mutant zombie killer clowns from planet Zeus! Never did find out. But Abby knew it (they) were out there, and she was warning me to be aware of what I could not see.
Of course animals have such refined senses and most race faster, see clearer, perceive a scent better than we. Our experiential horizon is so framed by what I perceive now and at this moment. So I might text and not worry about the road ahead as I can’t see beyond the curve or the jogger who had stopped to tie her shoe, or the SUV doing 65 in the 30 zone that also happens to be on my side of the road. I can’t see what lies ahead.
I have that extra drink before I drive home because I cannot feel how the alcohol is affecting my reaction time and judgment. I never break the adolescent code and speak the complete truth to parents lest I lose face with peers. I don’t understand consequences follow decisions in the real world. After all, I now have an adult body, therefore I am an adult (?)
One of the hardest of life’s lessons to master is knowing that we don’t see into the darkness that lies beyond the present moment. We don’t have the ability to see, hear, or smell the future consequences of poor choices. It is a blessing when we have a companion (be it life’s partner or canine adoptee) who can honestly warn us to beware of going into the darkness unprepared and foolishly.  And if the voice of reason in your life is your co-worker, your daughter, your spouse, your canonical superior, your hated rival or even the “voice” of God whispering in your conscience: it’s best that you listen. Someone may very well be aware of what you cannot see that lies ahead.
Fr. Joe