Mark 9: 36-37 He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” (The Message)
I apologize to all of you for the late entry this week. Normally I write my blog on Thursdays, after Prayer and Share, but this past Thursday I had two meetings after Prayer and Share, got on the road for home rather late, and;
Just as I was leaving Perth I got a text from my husband, Hugh, saying that he’d found our little elderly dog, Tex, curled up and unresponsive. After some discussion about what to do, Hugh did a flying run to the after-hours Vet clinic in Prescott and had to make the brutal decision to put Tex down.
This was not an unexpected death. As many of you were aware, Tex was about 16 years old, a rescue dog, and his health had been failing for weeks. Despite all of that, this was a brutally difficult thing for my family to cope with.
You see, Tex was so full of life and full of personality, and somehow he always seemed, I don’t know how to express this – kind of immortal? He was tiny; barely topped 3 pounds, and could easily be carried anywhere he wanted to go. And he demanded attention and love (at least from me) all of the time. When I worked at my computer, he would drape himself over my shoulders like a fur collar. In bed at night, he would ferret under the covers and yell at Hugh or me if we tried to roll over. He would snap and yell at anyone who was a stranger in the house; which was always amusing because it was a little like a stuffed animal snapping at you; he didn’t have a tooth in his head because he had to have them all removed when he first was fostered. And yet he was absolutely devoted to his family and had to be held by one of us at all times. Snacks were sacred to Tex, and all snacks must be shared with him like communion. He saved most reverence for cheese, but would settle for scrambled egg or a bit of ham if that was available.
For the last couple of weeks, Tex had become increasingly confused and agitated; often pacing the house through the night. Because he had stopped being able to orient himself, he fell, and often. We had to set up makeshift barriers on all of the stairs, and we had to start crating him just to keep him safe. Hugh and I took turns staying up with him at night to try and give him a measure of comfort. I joked that it was like having a newborn in the house, and we are far too old for a newborn. He could settle for about 45 minutes if he was snuggled right up on our chests – but we had to be sitting up with him there.
And see, here’s the thing; both Hugh and I, and frankly my two children from a distance, loved Tex fiercely, and he loved us back with the same fierceness. He offered us this simple baseline of great delight when he saw us come in the door (I used to tell my human family that they all should dance like Tex when I came in the door), and yet would be absolutely his unvarnished self when he thought he should have something or was mad because he were encroaching on his space in bed.
All week, as I have been pondering our scriptures and reading about needing to be like children when we come face-to-face with God, I have thought about Tex. You see, I wonder if its more about being completely yourself; without pretense, without competition, without trying to ‘better’ someone, that God honours. And the simple trust that this is someone we love, who will meet our needs when we ask (but not necessarily dispense ‘treats’ or privilege). You see, our society has turned parenting even into a place where we jockey for position. We are expected to give our children ‘every resource’ they need to become ‘the best’; even though ‘best’ is an elusive and unattainable value. Children no longer can just be loved and cherished – they have to ‘win’ and ‘excel’ and we see them as a reflection of who we are rather than a reflection of who God is. Children’s development has become a commodity; which as a hugely hard ‘row to hoe’ for all children. They become a bundle of ‘potential’ rather than themselves, just who they are.
So this week, I’m changing the scripture, and instead, picturing Jesus picking up Tex and cradling him. Tex in his frailest, most difficult time of care. And I’m picturing Jesus telling the disciples that they need to be like Tex.
Tex who loved his people fiercely.
Tex who was absolutely himself at all times.
Tex who depended on us to meet his needs and absolutely trusted that we would do so.
And its like this, that we can truly embrace God.
Blessings today, my friends, and remember you are Loved.