Confession last week, just me, my priest and the icons. And all the things I drag with me.
This time, the lesson of this year’s Great Lent, it was resentment. It really wasn’t pretty.
I really should ask Fr. Andrew if Helo can come to confession with me. I guarantee he knows EXACTLY what I need to tell him, because whatever it is about that little dog and our SAR journey together, it reveals my character: constantly, in all its ugly glory.
(Aa could probably chip in too, but he comes to church, so if he’s really fed up, I guess he could corner the priest.)
Over the past few months, as frustration continued to build in my professional life, and training Helo in this new task of human remains detection did not take off as easily as I thought it might (read: felt entitled to), I found myself struggling with a creeping resentment.
Here’s the funny thing about that: resentment undoes any good you might have done, it adds fuel to anger, and just really makes you feel miserable. It is as emotionally untenable as picking up a good-size pebble and sticking it in your boot, then going on a lengthy hike.
As I drove away, back to TJTP which is nowhere near as fun as I wish it was, I thought about where resentment came from, for me.
I resented a whole bunch of things, and what they were will remain between me, God, Fr. Andrew and the saints who were listening in.
In general, though it was disappointment + entitlement – motivation. Whatever I thought I earned (read: entitled to have) and didn’t get, minus the motivation to either go reclaim it, get better or move on…
It was a mess. It made me nag my dog, badgering him to fix problems that were really mine, over-correcting him for mistakes he made because I sent him bad information. It made me sleep in too late, stay up too late, grumble too much and generally just not give a shit.
And I never would have noticed, or would have noticed much later, had it not been for Helo and his special nature, the way he tried to fill the void of the absence of leadership in our team. He did this by making decisions (incorrectly) or just flat ignoring me and my wasteful words and negative energy.
Saturday, a few days after this all occurred to me, I sent him out to find some of the stuff we find, this time on a longer training problem. I worked on handling me, more than him. As the heat rose on the gravel pit where we had placed the source, Helo chased it into the cool spots and up around the ridges, doing exactly what I asked him to do pretty much most of the time.
I worked on realizing that this is where we are. If we were supposed to be someplace else, that’s where we’d be. This was, as a friend told me the week before, the place where the universe wanted me for the higher purpose.
It’s where I’m supposed to be to be saved, to cook off the ego and the entitlement, shake free the rocks of resentment.
A few hours later, I was back in the gravel pit again, this time watching the boss work the same problem with her K-9. The problem had become much more complicated by time. The sun was higher in the sky, the scent more diffuse and harder to chase, but they got there. She remained calm, never nagged, listening and watching the dog communicate with her in the way they do–with flicks of tails or ears, changes in body language, a glance up, a nose down.
As she worked, I found a small white rock, worn smooth by the sand and the water and the years. I worried it with my fingers as we walked back to our trucks to finish the day. I carried it home in my pocket.
I will, however, be sure to keep it out of my shoe.
(Gratuitous photograph of Helo taken by my sister-in-law on a day when my character was particularly revealed. Sigh)