Be the gift.

“Be a gift to everyone who enters your life, and to everyone whose life you enter.  Be careful not to enter another’s life if you cannot be a gift.”

These lines were written by Neale Donald Walsch in “Conversations With God:  An Uncommon Dialogue.”  They spoke to my heart, my memories, my imagination.  They are the kind of words I clip out and file away and think about from time-to-time when contemplation is good company.  The kind of words that come back to me sometimes at the oddest moments.

Such was the case a few days ago when Quincy the dog stepped in my eye.  All 72 pounds of him.  

I was lying on my back on the floor, easing a persistent, rather painful, especially frustrating ache that starts in my back and tortures the rest of my body.  Ever the compassionate companion and free-thinker, Q has taken to helping me through these times by carefully backing up to my side (in classic dump-truck fashion), aligning his rump somewhere between my knees and my ribcage, and sitting on me.

The first few times he did this, I didn’t see it coming.  It startled me – not only for the action itself, but because it rather helped with the pain.  The pressure felt good, as did the laughing that followed.  I was touched by the absurdity of it, the look of it.  His deliberation and intentionality.  It was an obvious expression of his trying to help, but I could not imagine the thought process or even the instinct that brought him to this conclusion.

Perhaps it was nothing more than his attempt to protect me while I was in such an obviously vulnerable state and position.  I suspect that this was the reason why, when cat Tuppence decided to join us unannounced, and climbed on top of me too, Q reacted with alarm.  Jumping up and turning around quickly, he came down with his entire weight and one hind paw squarely on my left eye.

Sudden movements just aggravate the pain in my body, of course; and there were plenty of sudden movements at that point.  Paws and tails and arms and legs went flailing about.  Bursts of pain, barks of accusations, scramblings under the sofa.

How like that quote this moment became.  With all the best intentions, even with the most caring hearts and motives, more harm than good was done all around.  And no one felt very gifted.

“Be a gift to everyone who enters your life, and to everyone’s life you enter.”  A wise and compassionate philosophy, in perfect mindfulness, a loving practice.  But how much more wise and compassionate, perfect and loving is that flip side:  “Be careful not to enter another’s life if you cannot be a gift.”

And so, after all was calmed and settled with ice packs, and everyone was coaxed back out from under the furniture, it did become a moment of forgiveness and humor and hugs and understanding.  It was a gift.  Just like the lines from the Walsch writing continue by explaining that we can always be a gift to others … we ourselves are the gift … if we only let ourselves know and remember that.  

And yet, in the end I suspect that it may be just as important to remember this bit as well:  ask first, sit gently, watch where you step.