Today’s theme is Dogs. They call dog, “Man’s Best Friend.” There is a quote that I like that says, “If you think a diamond is a girl’s best friend you never had a lap dog.” Statistics show that a high percentage of us have a dog. If we are open to the possibility the dog will gladly choose us for his or her best friend.
People are the ones who break up with dogs, they never abandon us. They have become ubiquitous across cultures for their absolute devotion to their people.
I am late sharing with you today because I put In strenuous morning hosting my Bible study. I have a very shy Maltese. I expected her to hang out with my cats in the study. She spent hours quietly lying on my lap while I led the Bible study. She followed me into the kitchen to prepare them lunch and then quietly waited in the dining room for the meal. They kept commenting on how she just lay there so quiet for hours on my lap. She is the ultimate lap dog. She remained with me so she had the courage to remain with my guests. My dog trusts me implicitly.
My dog trusts me to make the right decisions. All dog people wish they could be half as smart and brave as their dogs believe them to be. Shy baby will happily hop into her car seat and go anywhere with me.
All her fear disappears in my presence.
I had a friend tell me that as a young teen she sometimes felt the need to get away from her parents in the evening after a stressful “discussion.” She told me she would take the big dog for a walk since they didn’t like the idea of her going out alone after dark. The dog had a yard and did not need a walk but it gave her time to walk off the teen angst. She saw the dog as a sign of protection. What surprised me was what she told me next. She said that the dog was afraid! She said the big baby leaned as close to her leg as she could get for the whole walk. Sometimes she could even feel quivers of fear travel through the dog’s body and up her leg. The dog never hesitated to go on those dark walks. The dog would look into her eyes with complete trust and faith. My friend said she realized that she was the grownup on those walks and while she trusted the sight of the big dog for her safety she was really the protector. They trust us!
I was thinking about the Apostle Paul traveling with Silas in Philippi. They were thrown into prison without trial after healing a slave-girl and thereby depriving her master of money. I love Acts 16:25. Not the part of the story with the earthquake, not the part where all the prisoners all refused to escape, not even where the jailor and his whole family came to believe in Jesus. My favorite part of the story is where Paul and Silas are sitting in prison at midnight after being beaten and locked up. It sounds like a wretched predicament. In that appalling situation Paul and Silas were, ” praying and singing hymns to God.” How could they do such a thing as sing? Lament or rage as a form of prayer makes sense, but singing hymns! Paul and Silas trusted God. They had no idea what would happen next but they believed that the One traveling through the dark night with them was trustworthy. God actually used this brief imprisonment to enable Paul and Silas to reach more people in Philippi. Paul had a very successful ministry to the Philippians and wrote them a wonderful letter about God’s love.
Do I trust God enough to face the dark places in life with Him by my side? I know I will never be all that my dog thinks that I am. The wonderful blessing of life with dogs is that they can teach us so much about what we ought to be. God is even better and far more able than I imagine Him to be. I really can go anywhere with Him. I could learn a lot about trust from dogs.
Today I am thinking about cats, dogs, doors and summer Sunday School.An odd combination, I know. Years ago we had a wonderful Persian cat named Lorelei. She taught us in no uncertain terms that cats don’t tolerate closed doors. Now, as a house-cat, she had no problems with the doors to the outside being kept closed, but she objected heavily to inside doors being closed tight. She was spoiled as only a really good cat can be. She would actually meow at my sisters’ closed closet door and my sister would stop what she was doing and go, open the door, and give Lorelei a boost so she could climb into the overfull closet to play.
Living with cats all my life I am sensitive to their needs to have doors left open enough for a cat to open. When my Maltese, Daisy was a puppy she liked to climb into the windows and bark at anyone she could see. We live in town, so this could be a problem. During dinner we combatted incessant, uncorrected barking by shutting her into the dinning room with us. She cannot see out of the dinning room windows. We had peaceful dinners. We still have cats. You see the issue developing.
We also live in an 1870 cottage with some of the original hardware. No one needs a catch that actually catches on the door to the dinning room. It pleases cats that they can push the door open even when it is closed. In the beginning Daisy was too tiny to push the solid 1870 door open even though the catch was broken. She lives with and learns from cats. She figured out how to push the door open. So we push a chair up against the dinning room door every evening for dinner. The door is closed. There is no barking. Daisy lies quietly on the floor next to my chair. It is still nap time for most of the cats. All is good.
Daisy is now three years old. There have been humorous incidents where she has accidentally been shut out of the dinning room for dinner and eventually cries at the door to be let in. What dog looks out the window when your people are in the dinning room without you?
We have a cat named Pussywllow. He is beautiful! Yes, he is. And he is very macho since he looks so lovely and has such a name to overcome. He no longer sleeps through the dinner hour. He comes every evening just before I get up to serve desert and pushes the door open to come into the dinning room. It takes a couple of hearty shoves, but he can push the solid wood door, and chair aside and strut into the room. He swaggers into the room! At 15 pounds he’s no little cat. He is three times Daisy’s diminutive stature. We have opened the door for him only to receive a look of disgust. He wants to prove he can push that door open. Daisy leaves, checks the windows and returns. We still close the door and pull the chair in front to hold it in place.
Pussywllow was in the dinning room when I served dinner last night. I am enough of a traditionalist that I went ahead and closed the door and pulled the desk chair in front. That is just how we do things now. This is the dinner tradition. We all wondered what would happen at the time Pussywillow usually comes in to proves his prowess. Dad thought I should get up and open it for him when he arose and walked over to the door. My sister and I agreed that he did not want our help. We all watched as he “pulled” the chair out-of-the-way and then “pulled” the door open with his paw. He left. Came back and strutted around the room and then went off to cat nap. Daisy checked the windows and returned.
I am left thinking about the doors that we close out of tradition. They don’t keep anything in or out, but we “do it that way.” I have a little cat of six pounds, who is almost sixteen years old. She sleeps though our dinner but I doubt she would be able to come into the dinning room with the door/chair closed. Are we inadvertently keeping some shut out because of our traditions?
These are questions I am asking. I am a traditionalist. I love liturgical worship. Sunday School may be another matter. I love Sunday School!!! I’m just not sure we need to do things they way they always have been done.
In my Church we hold children’s Sunday School all year through. I believe that is a good thing. I also think it is a sin to bore a child in Sunday School. I’m asking my committee if they think that we might schedule a special Sunday for the kids and their families to meet at McDonald’s for breakfast and the lesson. Our Church is right down the street from the Golden Arches. When I told my idea to my senior citizen father, he balked that it wasn’t really Sunday School if we met somewhere other than Church. I value my families’ opinions. I’m still presenting the idea to my committee, now I realize how I will have to go about it in a better way. Sometimes we close doors out of tradition. I don’t want to leave the outside doors open to strays and dangers, but I’m willing to rethink some of the doors I close. What about you? Do you close doors out of tradition? How might you open appropriate doors at your Church?
The dream of a perfect writing nook and my reality at first blush appear a long way apart. On closer inspection, however, there are some crucial similarities.
My dream would be of a tiny garden house, just beyond my home. My dream home that is. My real home is in town and has such a minuscule garden that an outbuilding couldn’t be more than 5 foot square and fit.
I would love french doors looking out onto a lovely garden with a large desk and comfortable chair positioned just to face the landscape. I would position a chaise to face away from the french doors and toward the bookcases beneath the clerestory windows. A small sink and electric kettle for making tea, a quilt for the chaise and a cushion for my dog and cats will make it perfect. I would cover the walls with bead-board painted off white and have roman blinds at the windows in another shade of off white to control the glare. Some good lamps will be required. I would hang some Bible verses in frames on the walls that can easily be changed out as inspiration requires.
That is my dream. The reality is that in the morning I sit in a pink chaise in the center of my main floor. I do have Bible verses near by. My view faces toward the kitchen. I do have a laptop table which offers writing space and a place for my iPad. I have bookcases handy and a small writing table, too small to really be of any use except to hold a few plants. There are plenty of windows, but the room is lodged so tightly between the buildings on either side that it is dark inside all the year through.
No matter where I sit to write my dog and cats come and sit with me. They pile themselves atop me and nap away. Sometimes they paw at my keyboard to try to get my attention. Some times they paw at my iPad. My late, much beloved “cat son” had figured out that if he tapped the screen of the iPad a couple of times in quick succession I would have to turn it off in favor of petting. It is now but a treasured memory. Mellowing Maltese eyes with a soft woof and cat purr are the lovely background music of writing.
In the evening, I retire to sit on my bed and write. Here at least it is a bit quieter. I can shut the doors and reduce the external noise. I have plenty of light here and I can sit down with my iPad, keyboard, fur kids and The Word.
My Bibles, usually my digital versions, handy on my devices, are essential. I need to read The Bible before I begin and pray while I write. I do not rely upon my own power to write anything useful. As St. Paul said, ” For I know that nothing good dwells in me,” Romans 7:18a. The peace of God, prayer and purr song is all that is really necessary.