Words of Winston – February 2018
I hope all is good in your world – things are certainly cool in the caring canine community!
What’s in a name? Fr. Dad calls me by many of them: ‘Doberdog of Distinction’ (of course); Mr. Stinky (when it’s time for me to have a bath); Mr. Woof-Woof (ironically, because I don’t bark – it’s my superpower, I use it sparingly); Mr. Cuddlepup (when he needs some comfort); and Mr. Drool (when he needs me to share his food) to name but a few.
I put up with them all – however weird some of them may be – because they help dad, except … not one of those names is me – even though he thinks that by giving me those names, he knows me.
But is that true? How do we know what we know anyway? What led us to knowing what we think we know – and how does that affect how we think about ourselves?
These aren’t idle questions, peeps; they go to the very heart of the Christian faith, and to what Lent is all about.
You know – Lent: that period of reflection regarding your faith, how you are living, and whether you’ve grown, shrunk or stagnated over the past year.
The truth is that, whatever dad thinks about me, he’s only partially true – because there’s always more. Another truth is this: God knows you better than you know yourself.
There is absolutely nothing you can hide from Him, and yet it seems to be that peeps are amazingly good at hiding the truth of who they are from themselves. Rationalizations, anger, fear, loss, hope, tickle spots – God knows them all; and He wants you to know them all as well, so that you may grow.
This is the Lenten ‘thing’; it is what Lent is all about: an opportunity to get into your minds everything about you. It’s a Spring Clean for the Soul© – God’s way of letting you play ‘catch up’ with Him about who you are.
We canines are not that sophisticated. Unlike felines we pretty much wear our hearts on our paws. Peeps and felines are similar in that you both think you are God – the difference being that felines are way closer to actually achieving what they think. J
I reckon all my above thoughts became clearer while I was reading some poetry: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.”
A peep called Alexander Pope wrote that ages and ages ago; and he wrote like dad does – this poem goes on and on and on. I can’t remember much else of it, but this first line really made me prick up my ears – because it seems so true to my experience of peeps.
When I bother to enter into the social media maelstrom that is ‘FacePalm’ (ed: don’t you mean ‘FaceBook’?) – whatever, dad – it seems that someone is sounding off about who God is – I mean really nuts-and-bolts details of God – to the exclusion of any other view. Such peeps are ‘scanning God’ and ‘presume’ they know Him, but actually all they’ve done is make a god in their image: a nice, malleable god who is just like them; who thinks like they do, approves of all they say and do, and requires no obedience, isn’t challenging, and never tests their faith.
This is not only very sad, it is extremely dangerous. Such peeps can go from the particular (them) to the general (everyone else) and because they believe that their god is real they judge everyone else by their own standard and – surprise, surprise – everyone else is found wanting.
This is another thing that an introspective Lent experience can cure – because it can make you real.
But that raises another question, perhaps: what does it mean to ‘be real’?
As a canine, ‘being real’ is me accepting who I am. Of course, we’ve all seen the tiny canine who barks furiously at the large canine – who completely ignores the little yapper. Let’s call that ‘enthusiasm over experience’. But in essence, ‘being real’ means that I know my place in the pack; that I become the canine I need to be for the peeps I’m with; that my schedule is not my own; that I don’t judge other canine’s or peep’s motivations.
As a peep, my ‘being real’ might sound eerily similar to what is expected of you: knowing your place in the Body of Christ; that you fulfil what is needed for others rather than for yourself; that you become responsible for your schedule to fit in with others’ needs, rather than for your own convenience; that you don’t judge.
With some canines what is required of them is great: to move from nasty, all-teeth and growls, to become a fur cushion for a child; from desperate ‘me, me, me, me’ jumping up, to taking one’s place in line for attention.
Lent offers you peeps the chance to look in the mirror – it offers you growth and peace and love. But it offers it only on the real God’s terms.
Wishing You a Spirit-Filled Lent,