In the Same Space of Joy

We linger on the walk to school because we spy the Pileated Woodpecker.

We stop to take note of his joyful, loud pecking that reverberates through the woods and up the path to school. We stand there to observe the bright red head with the stunning white markings down his neck and on the underside of his wings.

Along the path, in the same space of joy, we lean in to enjoy the progress of the Robin eggs. But no. They aren’t there. It’s an empty, ravaged nest. The eggs have been destroyed and the nest abandoned. As simple as that, a crow, a snake, or a chipmunk feasted. We don’t know who or why or how. So we say, “Things like this happen.”

In the same space of joy, the woodpecker and the abandoned nest.

I think about the joy of the new bundles of energy, those puppies still learning to take obedient walks in the neighborhood. It was a dog party this morning; we greeted at least six dogs. In the joyful space of morning salutations, I learn of a son’s Bar Mitzvah passage from Leviticus 19:9-10:

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

As the dogs pull the neighbors onward and home, I’m left with the joy of considering what I leave behind for others to glean from my ordinary living. I think of living with reserves to bless others. I feel the joyful rightness of living as one not reaping to the edges of my life.

And then, in the same space of joy, my husband and I watch as a couple walks their aged dog, Belle, for her last walk in this life. It’s her time to depart from us today. As the Amish would say, “Her life was complete.” We cry on the front porch and wave goodbye to Belle.

It’s suddenly the saddest thing of the morning to see a dog take her last walk. We want to stand and cheer for her–for all her living and loving and chasing and doggy life–but it’s a moment to be still.

She wasn’t our dog, but she also was. The eggs weren’t ours, but they were. We’ll think about these things as we walk together for a thousand more miles of joy and sorrow, joy and sorrow. In the same space of joy, we’ll have so many moments together like this.

What a beautiful life lived together because we haven’t reaped to the edges. We have reserves to share of ourselves each new morning on this ordinary walk to school.


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