Encourage and Support Others

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love what thou dost love,

And do what thou wouldst do.

- Edwin Hatch, 1878

In late January, on a crisp, clear day, I was walking the dog and praying the rosary on my lunch break. This has been my daily custom while working from home for the past two years.


My dog likes to check out the front lawns, trees, bushes, and flowerbeds on our walk to the park. We mostly go the same route each day so it’s sort of strange that he always shows a strong interest in exploring the same terrain over and over again in great detail. It’s as if he is discovering it each day for the first time.


Perhaps that is the attitude I should adopt when it comes to my daily rosary. I don’t set out to be routine or mechanical. It just sort of creeps in.


I had just started my walk and was praying the first Aves of the first decade. I let out a bit of leash as the dog headed over to a shrub. I turned myself a bit toward the dog, continued to pray, and waited for the dog to finish up his exploration and marking of the shrub. He finished. I then turned to continue down the sidewalk, looking up into the sky.


As an aside, I should add that I have recently when there is no one around, started to look up at the sky from time to time during prayer. Just here and there, not all the time, mind you. It’s usually when I am on the Our Father, saying the word “Father”, but not on every Our Father.


Mostly it’s just for a moment. Sometimes I will stop walking and continue to look up as I say more of the Our Father, or even finish it. However, before I linger like that, I check my surroundings. I don’t want to make any of the neighbors feel uncomfortable or draw attention to me. I can’t quite pinpoint why or when I started doing this, raising my eyes to the sky, it just sort of crept in.

Back to my walk. The dog finishes and I continue forward, getting ready for another Hail Mary. Then, in mid-step, I sense His presence. Everything interiorly becomes very, very still. It is all happening in a sudden, unexpected way. Like an unscheduled visitor ringing the doorbell. His timing, not mine.


I look up and say quietly, “Father”. I hold my glance at the sky for a moment, then I continue walking.


I walk on in silence, flooded with the sense of His presence. I feel peace and gratitude, mixed with awe. Why does He stoop so low to connect with me like this? I am a mere creature, one who is nothing compared to Him, here for an instant, gone the next. Even though I know the answer, I get choked up every time because I am not home and I long for Him, even if most of the time it is unconsciously. When He reminds me of who He is, tangibly, it’s no longer unconscious, but real. The Father sees me, I am known to Him, He loves me, and He takes delight in me (as He does with all of his children).


I arrive at a busy street. This requires my attention. I cross the street and continue my walk and the rosary on the other side of the street.


This beautiful, undeserved gift of His presence would already be a full meal by itself, however, what happened thirty minutes later stuns me into silence for the rest of the walk and puts me into meditation for the rest of the day.


After the rosary, I switch to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. About halfway through, the dog finds another set of bushes to investigate. It’s the same drill. I let out a bit of leash and turned my body toward the bushes. Once the dog is done, I pivot back to continue the walk.


For the second time in thirty minutes, in mid-step, I feel His presence. But, for some reason, instead of looking up, I look straight down. There, perfectly in the middle between my feet, is what looks like a small, red piece of paper with letters on it. I reach down to retrieve it.


It turns out to be a small, square sticker. It’s firmly attached to the sidewalk. I bend lower to peel it off and to read it.

I am stunned and somewhat confused. I read the message several times. The similarity of both touchpoints is striking, each time dog-returning-from-shrub, same physical movement of mine (mid-step, as I continue the walk). To me, that connects the two.


I read the sticker yet again. The directness of the message. This sticker echoes the Lord’s second commandment in the Gospel to love one another as He loves us.


I ask myself: Have I been attending to my wife, my children, my family, my brothers, and sisters consistently with care and love? Has self-love crept into some areas of my life? Am I being given a reminder? Am I being asked to be more encouraging and supporting? In a way, this is an area of strength for me, but am I channeling the gift properly? Doing it intentionally? I walk on in silent reflection.


Often, prayer can be dry, of course. During those times, God wants us to persevere in our love for Him. When we do so, we please Him greatly.


At other times, our Good Father, like an earthly father, wants to shower His children with His affections. Our prayers then will contain His affection and the words in prayer, spoken or silent, come alive with His love, His grace, and His guidance.


I finish the walk and arrive at the house. I un-leash the dog and let him into the house. For the rest of the day, I am filled with gratitude for God’s presence and His peace.

 

David grew up in Germany and currently lives in northern California. He is married to Maya and enjoys spending time with their blended family. David works in banking and helps with RCIA in his local parish. He enjoys tennis, reading, and religious and creative writing. In 2020, he self-published a short suspense novel, “Point of Convergence”, and in 2021 a collection of personal writings titled “Turning Back”. He also writes a religious column for St. Peter’s Church that is published in the Dixon Tribune.