Why God Made Dogs
This past summer, one of the members of our congregation at WTUC passed away. He was an unusual member, but he ran to church every Sunday and waited outside in the courtyard next to his water bowl until the service was over. Snack time often spilled over into the courtyard and Bjorn was always there to opportunistically clean up any leftover treats. He knew the value of a vigorous post-prandial roll in the grass and he was often joined by the children of WTUC in his antics. He was our before and after church greeter. He would have wanted to greet everyone one last time, but he died at Lake Nojiri in August and was laid to rest next to the Ingulsrud cabin. This post is dedicated to Bjorn.
Spell “God” backwards and you get “dog.” While this may just be a coincidence in the English language, it reminds me of how much a dog can teach us about God. Without becoming too far-fetched with this analogy, take a moment to sit and stay and chew on it for a while.
I’m thinking about our extremely enthusiastic Golden Retriever. Keep in mind that the very word, “enthusiastic,” has God right in the middle. The “-thu-“ or “theo” part of enthusiastic, means God. To be full of God means to be enthusiastic. Bjorn must have been full to the brim.
What Bjorn was most enthusiastic about was welcoming people. His best days were when he could welcome lots and lots of people. He absolutely loved Sundays. He was our best greeter. He was also our hairiest greeter and he did drool on folks occasionally, but he was always enthusiastically welcoming. How very appropriate for church. God welcomes one and all to the Christian community. We should follow Bjorn’s example; but perhaps with less drool.
Bjorn loved to share everything and he loved to deliver gifts; that’s what retrievers do. God loves a generous giver, so I’m sure that God loves Golden Retrievers. Bjorn shared anything that he could find on the floor. He would pick up items and he would bring them with wagging tail as welcoming gifts to anyone who came to our door. He shared slippers and balls and cans and wrappers and socks… and underwear. Among other things, Bjorn taught us the importance of using the laundry basket.
Although Bjorn may not have been a very smart dog, he was emotionally intelligent. He knew when someone needed comfort and company. When I was sick, he would climb into bed next to me and put his nose near my face. Apparently dog breath has healing qualities because this treatment always helped. He didn’t mind at all having someone crying into his fur. Dog hair is very good at absorbing tears. Our God is heaven invites us to come to him for comfort and he will wipe away all of our tears. God is very good at absorbing tears too.
So although Bjorn is no longer with us, the memories of this dog keep pointing me back to God, and I am very thankful that we were blessed with Bjorn for so many years. We will miss having him as part of our congregation.
With love and faithfulness,