Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Loving Into Wholeness


It has been just over a week now since Tune has come into our life.  If you had told me ten days ago that I would now be completely smitten with a nearly ten-year-old dog I would have been very surprised.  These are the things that can happen when you allow the Spirit to lead and open your heart to hidden treasure.  It feels especially significant to me that we first met her on the feast of Epiphany for she has been a great gift.  We were going to wait until after our big trip this summer to adopt a new dog, then we found Tune and were going to take her in temporarily, but now I can’t imagine anyone else getting the privilege of nurturing her during these winter days of her life.

Cathleen from Back Road Journey wrote a comment on my post last week about the Winter God that has really been stirring within me the last few days as I am present to the wonder of this new creature and the love she so freely offers.  Cathleen wrote: “Perhaps this is the season to consider what needs “fostering” in our lives, what part of our hearts and souls have been neglected or abused and now need the tender love and care that you are offering to your foster dog.”

Tune, which I have decided is short for Petunia, is just a sweet little love of a dog.  She wants nothing more than to be in our presence, preferably draped across our laps.  It breaks my heart when I think of the life she has spent without much personal attention, essentially used for what her body can offer as a breeder.  Then when she was too old to perform her function anymore, she was tossed aside.  She is very nervous and shy in new situations, but once she starts to trust, she becomes a playful, loving, and devoted companion.  She may live for a year or another five, but my deepest hope for her is that she can soak in all the love she can.  Perhaps we can help love her out of her fears and back into wholeness.  Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I freely submit myself to the wisdom of other creatures and so have also been referring to her as Abbess Petunia.  Our Abbey needs an Abbess after all, and Tune models a life of rest, play, loving, and gratitude that is a great reminder for my sabbatical time.

It makes me think of the ways I have been loved into wholeness in my own life.  Meeting my husband over 14 years ago and being loved by him so completely and unconditionally went miles to help me heal from the messages of my alcoholic father.  I am able to become more fully myself in his loving gaze and I hope my love offers the same in return. 

To be cherished in this life is a gift beyond measure and one I would wish for every single living creature.  To love others in such a way that they know they are already whole and beautiful is a sacred thing, perhaps the only really important thing we do in this life. 

So back to Cathleen’s comment, as we nurture Tune with love and remind her of what a dog’s life should be, I am also aware of those places of my own life that have gone neglected for too long and need some loving attention again. Tune is calling me into a most tender love for her, and in the process I myself am becoming more whole as well.

What in your life needs to be fostered again?  Where do you need reminding of your incredible, beautiful wholeness?

-Christine Valters Paintner

You might also enjoy

Summer Solstice Blessing

Summer Solstice Blessing*Radiant One,creator of the cosmosand the luminaries which light our way,bless this day of longest lightand the gift of the sunto bring warmth to our livesand abundance of growth,sweetness of blueberries,refreshment of lemons,nourishment of kaleand a thousand other kinds of food.We sing in

Read More »

Monk in the World Guest Post: Sharon Clymer Landis

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Sharon Clymer Landis’s reflection on the wisdom and love of a foster dog. I’m fostering a dog named Ladybug. She was caught

Read More »

19 Responses

  1. Healer within…. your words remind me of my beloved ridgeback who is no longer with me. During a really terrible time in my life he too was my confidante and found his home on the bed at night!! As human we do not realise the blessings we are given in the form of our animals…. past and present.

  2. Oh, Christine…

    How I needed to connect to – and be reminded of the love, gentle compassion and healing energy of self-care, grace and wholeness:) Your Tune reminds me of my Rhoda, my loving, sweet, gentle Rhodesian Ridgeback Doggie angel who is right here with me… Rhoda was thrown away to the streets, no one wanted her as she has hip “problems” and I am now blessed that she found her way to me. The first night I brought her home (to foster, of course! -she calmly walked past my other 2 dogs and climbed on the sofa and went to sleep… She was home… Your Tune’s energy is much like Rhoda’s… Rhoda sleeps w/me (when I can talk her into it:) and she, like Tune, becomes a small (well, 70 lbs small ball of Love!) and snuggles next to me – always needing to touch:)
    I have found so much of what I needed here tonight, and I am so grateful… Your post and the replies have touched my heart ~ and Tune has touched my soul! Love is so healing, isn’t it?
    Now I will be still and take some quiet time to reflect on what my doggie angels are mirroring to me, so I can go deeper…
    I needed the love and care here! Blessings and Gratitude! And a doggie hug to Miss. Tune:)

  3. I am so glad that Tune is going to stay with you! She looks peaceful and content…to take her out of that into another unknown would be sad. We adopted both our children, our daughter was 2 when she left her foster home to come live with us. It was heartwrenching to see her grieve…yet again…for another loss in her short life, first from her birth mom and then from her foster mom.

    How wonderful that Tune can stay settled and enjoy her new home and ‘parents’!


  4. Zorra, what a great saying! Thanks for sharing your experience with Amie. No matter how long we have Tune, we are blessed by this time with her.

    So glad the image spoke to you Cheryl!

    Thank you Cathleen, we are indeed richly blessed.

  5. Your photos show us how quickly you offered love and trust and how quickly Tune’s dog heart knew to receive your gifts!! How blessed you all are. Once again, your words about love as the way to wholeness and healing are timely. And I will snuggle all the more with our dog and 2 kitties to foster needed self-care here in the cold mid-west. Warm and loving wishes to each of you!

  6. Christine,

    Seeing others as already whole and loving them as such. Hmmm, seems like that is our best way to emulate God and show forth the Divine in the darkness of this world. Great thought for me to take into my day today. Thank you!