Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Cap'n Jack Russell" and other teachers

Sometimes I think that God gave us pets simply to help keep things in perspective. It's not just that they make us laugh - and they certainly do - it's more that the furry animals in our homes provide much needed social commentary, a kind of divine tutorial. "Just look at things from my point of view..." they seem to be saying; "get over yourselves."

That's why my lead photo is of our friends' Jack Russell (David and Karin Dale). The dog's chief joy in life, especially when there are people around to impress, is to take a running jump onto one of the "floaties" in their pool, then sail around while standing high on the prow like "Capt'n Jack Sparrow" - which makes him, I guess, Capt'n Jack Russell.

Then our dog, Scout (80 pounds of hairy Labradoodle), is a constant, unremitting, hoot. Recently Rebekah fell off a stepladder while demolishing something in the kitchen. I wasn't home so she lay still for a few moments, making sure nothing was badly damaged. Scout was concerned and came in to check out all the commotion. She looked at Rebekah, sniffed, then - unsure of how to help - did the only thing that came to mind... She sat on Rebekah's head!

And Darth the cool black cat has life completely figured out. What's not to understand about rotating between five or six favorite comfort spots in the yard and around the house? But it's his attitude that so completely rocks. Doesn't matter if he's healthy, sick, beat up by some neighborhood animal, or even being poked and prodded by the vet... he is gracious, grateful for the love, and as even tempered an animal as I've ever seen.

Maybe the cat is so good natured because he vaguely remembers the situation we rescued him from? Maybe the dog is such a hoot because she has been loved so rigorously from day one...?

I believe we all have much to learn as a so-called "higher species". The original sin in The Garden was that not-so-subtle shift in thinking, a choice that internalized the deadly idea that "It's all about me." The companion tragedy was avoiding the presence of God, becoming dishonest, and choosing not to be in relationship with the Creator.

Sometimes I'm convinced that all of nature is conspiring to help human beings get a grip on reality. Reality that we bury under needless worry and acquisition and false priorities and - most of all - arrogance.

Just listen...

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