Running in Circles

When pummeled by too many thoughts a long walk would cure me of the punch-drunk feeling of lifelessness. The normal route led along open fields, and not infrequently I would see a man walking his four Kerry blue terriers. These were amazing dogs. Bounding energy, elastic grace, and electric speed, they coursed and leapt through open fields. It was invigorating just to watch these muscular stretches of freedom race along. Three of the four dogs did this, I should say. The fourth stayed behind and, off to the side of its owner, ran in tight circles. I could never understand why it did this; it had all the room in the world to leap and bound. One day I was bold enough to ask the owner, “Why does your dog do that? Why does it run in little circles instead of running with the others?” He explained that before he acquired the dog, it had lived practically all its life in a cage and could only exercise by running in circles. For this dog, to run meant to run in tight circles. So instead of bounding through the open fields that surrounded it, it ran in circles.

from Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation by Martin Laird

I’m so grateful for the images and metaphors that shine a little extra light into the corners of my soul. I’m often challenging my clients to open their eyes and see that the “real” world is a much larger place than the ones they’ve created. Yet, when I read about a pup, running in circles, I have to admit that my wounds still dog me (no pun intended?).

Loving God, please help me run in a little larger circle today than the one I ran in yesterday. Amen.

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About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
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