Friday, February 17, 2012

What I am Learning about God from my Dog

I know this must sound like a crazy blog title, but I do think that there is a little messenger from God living in my house, sitting on my lap and waiting to lick my face.  I have never been very devout, and I know you will not be shocked to also learn that I am not much of a theologian.  Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine are names with which I am familiar, but certainly not because I have ever read their writings.   That being said, I do, however, believe that people are put in our paths for a reason.  I personally believe that there is a higher authority with a plan, rather than a mere coincidence or "luck" when person is in front of us at the right time with something to support us or guide us.  Now I am starting to suspect that God uses all of His creation for His messages.

One of His messengers lives in my house.  She is a whopping 15 pound cockapoo that found her way into our home at a time when we emphatically said that we were not getting a dog.  But Maggy needed a home, so now she is a member of our family.

Maggy is an endless ball of energy and love.  She makes us laugh and keeps the whole family aware of her omnipresent need for love and attention.  If you are seated, she is in your lap.  If you are lying down, she is on top of you or cuddled up next to you.  She tucks each child into bed at night.  Curling up on their beds for prayers and goodnight hugs and kisses.  At the first twitch which suggests that you are waking up in the morning, she climbs on your chest waiting to eagerly help you greet the new day.

Yeah, yeah.  Sweet, cute, you get it.  What does that have to do with God?  Well, frankly I had never even considered a connection until one morning we were having a family prayer with tired, grumpy children.  It dawned on me that we should try to be more "puppy-like" in our actions and attitudes.  Let's try and treat each day as a gift.  Be excited that each morning we get to spend another day with each other.  The dog sure thought that it was reason enough for zealous celebration and tail wagging.  Hmm, maybe there is something to this thought.

Try and have a religious philosophical discussion with young children.  Sometimes they don't have enough of a frame of reference to "get" the concept you are trying to convey.  So what does one do, look for an analogy to something that they can "get."  So here comes our dog again.  She was certainly more than eager to volunteer her enthusiastic self for any discussion, so long as there was a lap that needed warming and some serious belly rubbing to be had.

So what could God want us to learn from the devotion of a (to be perfectly honest here) not-so-very-bright dog?

Here it is in a nutshell:
1.  Each day is a gift to be celebrated with joy and enthusiasm.  If you see the ones you love show them just how much you love them.  If your dog loves you this much, just think how much God loves you.
2.  God wants you to remember His love for you all the time and He wants to share that love with you.  Think about how your dog will start vigorously wagging its tail in joy when you even start to look in its direction.  Dogs will nudge you to remind you to continue petting them or to not forget that they are there ever-faithfully by your side.
3.  Quote from above, "ever-faithfully by your side."  Don't think that needs much of an explanation.
4.  Your dog is always happy to see you, whether you have been out of sight for less than a minute to get the mail, away all day or been gone for a week on vacation.  The bliss at your return is pure ecstasy, regardless of how long you were away.  God is filled with joy whenever we turn to Him, wether we be the prodigal son, the Pope or somewhere in between.
5.  Your dog wants to be the first thing you think of and show love to you the moment you wake up.  Your dog wants to be the last thing you think of as you drift off to sleep petting them.  They want you to shower them with love for every waking moment in between.  I think that if God decided to ignore our free will for a moment and kicked us in the butt to get our attention, that is exactly what He would want.  Nudge, nudge, LOVE ME COMPLETELY.  God is much more subtle, however, wanting us to voluntarily come to Him (so that's why He uses the furry reminders).
6.  Your dog doesn't want fancy toys or beds, just the simple pleasure of your company.  God isn't impressed by our putting on airs.  He just wants our devotion and love.
7.  Your dog is willing to forgive your bad moods, temper tantrums and bad days.  Your dog is waiting with love for you to get over yourself.  Your dog is willing to help you do so.  Thank goodness The Big Guy is willing to do the same for us or we would be in deep, deep doggy doo doo.
8.  Your dog knows when you are hurt and grieving and wants to help you.  Dogs will lick your boo boos.  They will lick the tears from your face.  They will lay their heads beside you with deep mournful eyes when you are distraught.  They will comfort you in the best way they know how.  God wants to do the same if we will let Him.  Luckily he is not actually trying to lick our faces though, that would be quite an experience!
9.  This may be particular to my dog rather than all dogs.  Maggy greets everyone who comes to our home with ardent joy and love.  She has never yet met a person that didn't cause her to literally jump for joy.  God welcomes all, sinner and saint alike.  I find that to be a particularly lucky break for me personally, because there is no way I would fall into the "saint" group.
10.  A dog is ever on the alert, ready to jump up at a moment's notice to come be with us.  We need only to call.  God is just waiting for us to ask...  I don't think God would be too partial to a whistle though, I guess that's why we have prayer.

Thank goodness God's love is not like a cat.  We would never have a chance.  If so, God would barely tolerate our existence, ignore us unless it was convenient for Him.  God wouldn't even need us to feed Him.  So if God was like a cat, we would definitely be in deep, deep doo doo.

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