Startled, I jolted up and glanced at the clock. The blinking green light said 12:30. And then I heard it again. It sounded like sandpaper on a chalkboard. That’s when I realized that the noise was Mr. Mom (our new chihuahua mix) snorting his brains out.
When we adopted him two days ago, they gave him a vaccine through his nose and said that he would snort for a few days. Awesome.
Chloe, our new yorkipoo, hasn’t had a haircut in who knows how long. Over the course of however long its been, she’s been collecting stickers in her hair. So, when I went to bathe her the night that we got her, I spent about thirty minutes cutting the stickers out.
And, of course, when we take her out to pee she collects more stickers. The grooming place is booked until Wednesday. Fantastic.
* * *
Amanda and I knew that we would get a dog at some point this summer, but we just didn’t know when. And then, a few days ago, circumstances collided to convince us to adopt RIGHT NOW. We weren’t ready. At all. No back yard. No pet things of any kind. We spent a while at PetsMart, on the day we got them, finding food and a bed and leashes.
But we love them. Already we love them. And, no, they are not children. They are dogs. But they are vulnerable, cute, furry creatures who need our love and protection. They need our patience and affection. They need our concern and our resources.
* * *
Jesus, in the midst of explaining why his disciples should be rigorously focused on the moment, provides that God takes decent care of the birds. They get fed even if they don’t have barns. And, later, Jesus notes that God pays attention when the sparrows fall to the ground.
Well, I say, that’s all fantastic, Jesus, but that brings me no comfort. You know, maybe the birds should start worrying seeing as how a lot of them end up dead despite the fact that they also eat. And, besides, God being aware of their deaths doesn’t really bring tons of comfort. If God, I don’t know, prevented their deaths, then maybe we would be getting somewhere.
* * *
Every time we try to put a leash on Mr. Mom, Chloe attacks him so that she can be the first one to have a leash on. Every time either of us gives much attention to Mr. Mom, Chloe intervenes so that she can get as much attention. It’s pretty cute because they are little dogs and because Mr. Mom is such a good sport about it. It’s not so cute when I do it.
It’s not so cute when I struggle to make myself more valuable, worthwhile, or acceptable by pushing others out of the way. But that’s what we’re all up to, right? This is what Don Miller was getting at with his lifeboat metaphor. And, along the way, we still have real needs. We still need help knowing where to poop and pee. We still need to be bathed, fed, and brushed. We still need to be walked.
* * *
Maybe Jesus wasn’t trying to convince everyone that it would be ok. Maybe all he wanted people to know is that life goes on one way or the other, but flipping out about it because your leash didn’t get put on first probably isn’t the way to go about life. I mean, as Jesus asks, do you really think your life will be longer because you worry about it?
And maybe it’s true that God orchestrates life for us the way Amanda and I do for our dogs. Maybe s/he intervenes moment by moment to give us food or take us on walks. Or maybe not. Maybe Jesus just wants people to take a cosmic view of their lives for a second, to step outside of their lives see it as God might.
Maybe it’s not unlike the way I see my dogs.
* * *
The dogs keep shitting in the house. I really really don’t like it. But, you know, whatever. We’ll train them to shit in the yard like normal dogs. I hope.
I’m not ever really angry at my dogs for shitting in the house. They are dogs, after all. And, until today, the dogs didn’t eat (which makes one wonder, you know, about the source of the shit . . .). But you know what is precious? Sitting with Mr. Mom and feeding him tiny bits of warm, soggy dog food because he really doesn’t have much teeth.
And maybe Mr. Mom is going to finish his food. Or maybe he is going to starve to death. And really that’s all up to Mr. Mom. Whatever happens, I’ll be right there with him as it happens.
Whether Mr. Mom eats or doesn’t. Whether he gets bit by a tick or doesn’t. Whether he gets his treat for shitting in the yard or doesn’t. Whether he snorts his brains out in the middle of the night or doesn’t.
Maybe not unlike God without whom no sparrow falls to the ground.
Maybe the encouragement that Jesus offers his disciples is the encouragement of solidarity, the solidarity of God.
Do not worry, he says, God is here with us. S/he suffers and dies and celebrates and rejoices with us.
* * *
No, it will not all go well with you, but that is the point: life is to be lived, and people are to be loved, and the Spirit of God fills the cracks in between.