While we can learn a lot from dogs, my Assistance Dog Marshall isn’t perfect. He’s a Spaniel, so he will always sniff out anything that he believes to be edible. For example…
Although covid-19 places me in strict isolation, I’m able to take a solitary walk Marshall in a nearby wood. He enjoys his time off-lead, and I’ve always trusted him to return to me when I blow my whistle.So last week I gave a blast, with the expectation he would immediately return from the undergrowth he’d disappeared into.
Imperfection number 1: No show. After several more blasts, he emerged with an enormous roasted bone in his mouth, complete with remains for gnawing. He carried his prize possession home, and by our outside bin I commanded him to ‘give’.
Imperfection number 2: He initially refused. He must have sensed the bone was going in the refuse. He didn’t realise that as his guardian, I know best. Delicious as the meaty bone may have seemed to him, I knew it would cause him inner upset.
Marshall’s misdemeanours are a reminder that we can make bad choices, and refuse to give up what we cling to. Truth is, I’ve clung to many things that are less than wholesome.
Like everyone, I have a deep-rooted longing for significance and security. I’ve wanted recognition, or efforts returned, or to be liked, and sometimes I’ve looked in the wrong places for these needs to be met.
I believe that as humans we are more than a body with a mind. We also have a soul, and if we neglect it, all will not be well. Our souls cry out for integration. As St Augustine said:
You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.
It is within our souls that we discover God has our best interests at heart.
But just as Marshall needed to give me his bone so that he could then receive a more wholesome alternative, so we need to ‘drop’ what we cling to – all those things that give us false and empty nourishment.
Photo credit: 2019 Paul Wilkinson Photography (Hearing Dogs for Deaf People)
Truth is… Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the food that satisfies your soul. (Isaiah 55:2)