Annie, the Immaculate Conception and New Beginnings

It’s finally happened… I have become the perfect DC cliche: I am a 30-something professional living in the city with my dog. This past Sunday (on our parish’s patronal feast of St. Francis Xavier as it happens) I brought home a beautiful retriever puppy named Annie. So, just as the Church is beginning a year of new life in this first week of Advent, the Lord breathes new life into my personal story. It’s a new life for Annie as well. She’s a refugee from the hurricane season in Puerto Rico. I’m told that she was abandoned at about 1 month old, along with her brother, on the runway at San Juan airport as other animals were being loaded on a plane for transport to adoption centers on the mainland. Thanks be to God, the airport workers took pity on her. Our first week together has been a revelation as we get to know each other, and as I get to know the ways of canines generally. To this end, I highly recommend, “The Art of Raising a Puppy,” by the Monks of New Skete, NY. These Orthodox monks have become experts at breeding German Shepherds, and have written several excellent books on how to raise dogs. But back to Annie and me…

As I mentioned, this first week has been a revelation: plenty of care, plenty of discipline and self-surrender, and tons of joy! …and it goes both ways. Annie has been learning and thriving in her new life, and so have I. It strikes me as particularly appropriate that all this newness comes about as we celebrate the Immaculate Conception: a day totally dedicated to marking the new beginning of goodness planned by God from before the beginning of time. Man could never have imagined how God would prepare for his entry into the world in Christ. Today’s Office of Readings compares it to the building of the Temple. In Chronicles 17:1-15 David wants to build a house, a place for the Lord to come into the world… but God has other plans. He tells David that it is not he, but his son Solomon who will build the Temple. I never imagined, driving to the adoption event on Sunday that I’d be coming home with a dog! A friend who’s involved in dog rescues called me to tell me that Annie would be at this event. She said, “This dog is perfect for you, can you get out to Tyson’s Corner fast?” I told her that, providentially, I was already on my way when she’d called.” An hour later Annie and I were driving home.

Today, celebrate the Immaculate Conception. Take some time to ask, “Lord how are YOU sending new life into my experience?” It comes in the most unexpected of ways. I’d write more… and will write more, but Annie needs to… well you know… Gotta go!