Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lessons We Learn From Our Dogs

I am very much a dog lover.  I love dogs, every breed, large or small.  There are some dogs that I like better than others, of course.  That is the way life works.  We prefer some things over others even if we love or like an entire genre of things.  We own two small dogs, one is a Yorkshire Terrier who is about six years old.  His name is Bo or his whole name is Mr. Bojangles but we call him Bo for short.  He is very small, weighing only about 5 pounds.  Our other dog is Bushy, a mixed terrier breed with ears that go up like a fountain and a corkscrew tail that goes over her back when she is happy.  She was a rescue dog and her age is unknown but sources who knew her in the past say she could be 20 years old.  She is nearly death and somewhat blind but is a happy dog over all.  Bushy stands nearby when I eat meals.  She is always ready in case a food should hit the floor or in case I should hand her a bit of food.  She watches me eat and is ready to try anything in case I should give her a bit of food.  Bo is happy to have a small piece of bread and then he goes to lie down until we are finished with our meal.  He is content to just be in the same room with us when we eat.

I came across a poem recently that compares humans with dogs and how we relate to God much as dogs relate to humans at meal time.  It is written by Rodney Clapp and was published in the February 18, 2008 edition of Christian Century Magazine.  I will type it here and leave it without comment so you can read it and then reflect on its meaning for your own life.

Lessons in prayer, from a dog

He assumes his still posture
two feet from the table.
He is not grabby,
his tongue is not hanging out,
he is quiet.

He wants to leap,
he wants to snap up
meat and blood.
You can tell.
But what he does is sit
as the gods
his masters and mistresses
fork steak and potatoes
into their mouths.

He is expectant
but not presumptuous.
He can wait.
He can live with disappointment.
He can abide frustration
and suffer suspense.

He watches
for signals,
he listens for calls
of his name from above.

At hints that
he may be gifted
with a morsel,
he intensifies his
already rapt concentration,
he looks his god
in the eye
but humbly,
sure of his innocence
in his need,
if his need only.

On the (often rare) occasions
when gifts are laid on his tongue,
he takes them whole,
then instantly resumes
the posture of attention,
beseeching, listening, alert,
the posture of hard-won faith
that will take no for an answer,
yet ever and again hopefully
return to the questioning.

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