December 3, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Listening to God: What does he want of us in life?

Shirley Vogler MeisterOne of the most wonderful articles that I have read in The Criterion this autumn was “God has brought them to us,” an Oct. 29 front-page story written by assistant editor John Shaughnessy.

Featured were foster parents Jay and Lois Patterson, members of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis, who have helped raise 37 foster children over 28 years. If you still have that issue, please re-read the story here.

Some people know that before I was married I hoped to have a large family—13 children, as I once told friends. I am 10 short!

Now and then I pondered it, but that wasn’t prudent because myasthenia gravis, a neurological problem, weakened me.

Then, I believe God started guiding stray animals to us. In intervals, one after another came in serendipitous ways and my mothering instincts kicked in.

Earlier this autumn, our youngest daughter, Lisa, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., went to London on a business trip. Our middle daughter, Diane, who lives in Plymouth, Ind., accompanied her.

When Diane returned, she gave me a small booklet she found titled Just to be loved: In celebration of sharing life with pets published by Unity in Missouri ( The book is available for a donation. To order it by phone, call 800-669-0282.

Despite reading the book several times, it still brings me happy tears. It also confirms my instinct that just as God guides couples to be foster and adoptive parents, he also guides us to respect and love the animals that come into our lives.

I don’t have the space here to share the heartwarming stories, but I can share some of the book’s beautiful quotations:

  • “Ask the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this Earth.” (St. Francis of Assisi)
  • “And God said, Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky” (Gn 1:20).
  • “My little dog—a heartbeat at my feet.” (Edith Wharton)
  • “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little they become its visible soul.” (Jean Cocteau)
  • “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
  • “Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” (George Eliot)
  • “Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” (John Muir)

Please consider pets as family additions—and allow the Humane Society to help!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: