faith,  fat soul theology,  process theology,  spirituality

Dogs, Gardens, and Fat Souls

This morning I patiently watched my 18-year-old dog, Munchkin, make her rounds through the back garden. She moves slowly; she’s blind and deaf; and, ever since she walked straight into the garden pond late one evening, she requires supervision each time she goes outside. I have had to adjust my life to make time to wait on her as she eats, as she walks the garden, and as she checks all the important spots in the house. She also waits. She waits by her chair until I show up to pick her up and place her in it. She waits when she finds herself stuck in a corner or behind a piece of furniture. She trusts that sooner or later I’ll come along and pick her up. Munchkin is a Fat Soul.

Patricia Adams Farmer describes a Fat Soul as “wide souls, expansive souls—souls too big to fit into the slim-cut ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ categories. Fat Soul is a philosophy of life, a kind of wide-angle lens through which to see life, community, and the Big Wide World.” Munchkin may be an old dog, but she demonstrates what it means to persist in being wide and expansive, loving and curious, and delighted by what life has to offer each day, even as her body slowly betrays her.

Munchkin is teaching me how to be a Fat Soul, how to live well despite the messy and unpredictable nature of life. The night she fell into the pond, Munchkin never complained or panicked. I pulled her out and carried her into the house to dry her off. Once she was dry, she ran circles inside the house as if falling into the pond had been the highlight of her week.

The Fat Soul Manifesto states, in part, “We believe that small is big: small choices, tiny creatures, miniscule gestures of love make a huge impact in our interconnected world.” Munchkin demonstrates that daily. Her smallness is huge.

I tear up thinking about the day Munchkin will eventually exit this earth. On that day, I plan to sit on the deck a long time enjoying the garden she loved and allowing myself to be absorbed into its sounds and sights and scents. My deck is my church. It’s where the interconnectedness of the world is made real to me. I recently discovered singer/songwriter Maren Morris and her song “My Church.” She says “there’s something downright spiritual to letting your body and mind be enveloped by the power of music.” I feel the same way about the power of a garden, and believe Maren Morris must be a Fat Soul. She sings:

When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

Tonight, I’ll stand in the cool, night air waiting for Munchkin to take her bedtime walk through the garden. I’ll have to run interference as she nears the pond. I may have to redirect her if she gets confused and walks into a shrub. I’ll also be listening to the tree frogs and taking in the smell of dirt and fallen leaves – worshiping from my deck – allowing my soul to get a little fatter.

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