A dog with a bone

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.dog-whistle-metal-iron-pipe-wallpaper-previewSo 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.

Hearing Dogs Appeal Shoot

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)

Keeping in time…

Keeping in time isn’t something I find easy. That’s why I don’t play an instrument!
While the musical ability to keep in time isn’t essential in everyday life, in other ways, keeping in time is important.

Keeping in time with the beat of our Creator makes for a more harmonious life. When we come in at the right time, with the right power behind the note, we will be able to play the part that has been written especially for us. We will be part of a whole, part of the composition orchestrated by God.

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There’s something comforting about a beat. It takes us to the heart of the matter, which I believe, is that we each matter to God.

A vivid memory from my childhood, is of a bereft puppy who found comfort in the ticking of a travel clock placed under its mat. I was told this was because it resonated with memories of its mother’s heartbeat.
Are we not the same? Truth is, I feel bereft at times, but if I keep close to God, there’s a heart-felt union.

God’s beat is steady, unwavering even when we make a mess of things.
It’s been said that there’s nothing we can do that makes God love us less, and nothing we can do that makes God love us more. God’s love is unchanging. Like a metronome, it sets the rhythm and helps us keep in time.

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If we can listen for the beat of God’s heart, we will find ourselves deeply connected with God. As St Augustine said:

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”

This connection is what enables us to become our true selves. It is the source of courage, of wisdom, and of selfless compassion. Attuned, we will be able to move in time with God’s Spirit. The song that comes to mind is Graham Kendrick’s ‘Teach me to dance’, so in my head I’m singing

…Teach me to move in the power of your Spirit
Teach me to walk in the light of your presence
Teach me to dance to the beat of your heart…

Truth is… Come near to God, and he will come near to you. (James 4:8)