Prayer of Thanks for Sheepdogs

This is a prayer I prepared for the Sunday morning worship at the World Sheepdog Trials at Llandeilo, Wales in September of 2008

Lord, we thank you for our dogs—your simple gift to us. Open us to what they teach.

We thank you for the grateful exuberance of our dogs. We thank you for the way they bound across the hills, splash in the waters, chew on sticks and roll in the dewy grass. Teach us, every day to say our own ‘thank you’ with every fiber of our being, for the wondrous works of your creation.

We thank you Lord for the honest, direct loyalty of our dogs. We thank you for the wag of their tail and the offer of a cuddle for friend and stranger alike, the way they make people from 22 nations into our neighbors,  the way they regard not body type, color of hair or color of skin. We thank you for the easy way they forgive faults—the way they love us, not because we can love back, but because of our need for love. Teach us, every day, to open our hands and hearts to friend and foreigner, and to be reborn to the power of free and fearless compassion.

We thank you Lord for the ageless wisdom of our dogs, who know things and do things that no book or computer chip can contain. Teach us, every day, to cherish what our neighbors know and what they can do. Help us to treasure the skills and arts of shepherds and farmers, cooks and cleaners and clerks, painters of landscapes and painters of schoolhouse walls. Help us to notice…help us appreciate…help us say “thank you,” with our smiles and with our words, for the ageless wisdom of our neighbors that we depend on for our very lives.

We thank you Lord for the way our dogs breathe deeply in and sigh deeply out before they settle and sleep. Teach us to live each moment of life as fully as they do and then to rid ourselves of the worries of the world as we commend to you our spirits. Teach us the deep mystery of peaceful sleep and peaceful death—to trust that the new dawn will come tomorrow, yet another of your surprising, simple gifts.

We thank you Lord for our shepherding dogs who can’t stand to loose track of the wayward lamb. We are your lambs, O Lord, and oh so often lost. Teach us, every day, to remember your fanatical eagerness to gather us back to your flock and fold, even as we pray the prayer your Shepherd Son has taught us to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven…

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