Another Shaggy Dog Story
Another Shaggy Dog Story
Jesus touted children as examples of citizenry in the kingdom of heaven. I try to remember that when the children I know and am near descend into anarchy, where the only law seems to be "what I want." That is, the little ones don't always live up to their billing. The reason they have angels interceding on their behalf at the throne of God is because they need as many guardians as they can get, up above as well as down below.
Perhaps some day a shepherd patrolling the wilderness of Judea will throw another rock into a cave, hear a rattling of broken earthenware, and, going to investigate, discover another long-lost gospel with additional red letter words. I can imagine, though I wouldn't dare to predict, that some of these forgotten sayings of Jesus might offer a different creaturely example for the kingdom of heaven: "Unless you turn and become like a puppy, you will not enter the kingdom."
Notice, please, I didn't say "dog." Dogs have a bad reputation in the Bible. They eat Jezebel, grab food from starving Dives, and are proscribed from holiness by Jesus. I guess in an earlier time in a place where daily bread couldn't be taken for granted, and where such dogs as there were ran wild, it was hard to think well of canines. I mean, no one sent cards to Moses with the observation that "Happiness is a warm puppy."
Perhaps the lost scroll found will redress this prejudice. Until then consider this tribute to a shaggy dog my attempt to set the canon straight.
Nowhere (except perhaps at a two year old's Christmas morning) on earth is joy expressed so genuinely and totally without calculation than by your pet dog when you return home after even the briefest absence. And where on earth is hope expressed as irrepressibly as your pet dog looking to you for table scraps following a meal? What child of yours reacts so immediately and obediently to your commands? What friend of yours tolerates your swings in mood, your casual indifference, and your angry swipes, and always comes back to you full of affection? Only your dog.
I thought my soulmate canine Sadie was a once-in-a-lifetime relationship. We enjoyed McDonald's fries together many lunchtimes on Long Island. We played ball for hours on the back lawn and in the fields of Vermont. When I returned home after an afternoon of visiting or meeting, she would be waiting for me by the door... just as I expect she will be wagging her tail when (and if) I cross the threshold of the Father's House with many rooms.
Sadie has not been displaced in my affection by our latest furry (actually, hairy) friend, Tappy. I think of the bichon as granddaughter to Sadie. Certainly Tappy manifests some of the traits of her spiritual forbear. She, like Sadie, barks at uniformed strangers. She allows the twins to maul her in playfulness. She never so much as growls when she is interrupted in midmeal. Once housebroken she has made no mistakes... well, almost none. She brings one or another of her assortment of balls to Betsy nightly to play chase the sphere. And she doesn't smell like a dog. All just like Sadie.
There was some misgiving about bringing another dog into our home. They do curtail your freedom to travel. And they do spot the lawn. But before two months had passed Tappy had ingratiated herself to her main critic, who shall remain nameless, except to say that the dog seems to be especially vigorous with her greeting every morning when said critic emerges from her bedroom and greets the day and is jumped on and wiggled around by a bichon puppy.
After all, children are really just adults in the making. But a puppy is a puppy forever.