Saturday, September 4, 2010


He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I'm awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

Tell me you love me, he says.

Tell me again.

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell.

I've often heard it said that all human communication can be boiled down to three words. In Mary's case it is "I love you." Another set of 3 words are "Please" and "Thank you." Over and over every day we get the chance to ask others to serve us and to hear how we have served others. We might say it differently each time, and often without much skill. Perhaps our "please" comes out as a demand or regret - "you don't love me anymore!" or "why are you so lazy - pick up your socks." In either case we are asking for something - to be appreciated and to be cared for. The tricky part is for us the listener to translate the crankiness, the whining, the anger, and the irritation into a phrase that reflects a request on behalf of the speaker. That's called empathy. Easy to offer when a beautiful dog makes eye contact with us in the night, but it is much more complicated when looking into a scowling face. Those unhappy moments with others are a great chance for us grow our spirits and our hearts, for each time we can say to ourselves, "They are asking me to please love them, and I am so grateful that I may find a way to do so." Everything we hear then is "Please love me," and may everything I do, think , and say be "I do."

What is your favorite phrase? Or that speaks of a theme in your life?

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