Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dogs, cats, and the least of these

I just returned from a week back home in Alberta. My lovely niece got married, and that gave me a great reason to go back and visit the family. Once my sister had recuperated from her mother of the bride duties, I spent a few days out relaxing at their place in the country. I missed seeing some of the friends I usually get to see, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

My sister’s family includes two gorgeous Golden Retrievers. They are about 11 months old, close to full grown physically, but still puppies—and therein lies the tale.
The dogs are siblings—the male is larger than the female, and each has quite distinct personalities.

As most puppies, they are very playful and attention seeking. The female has this unconscious need to put her paw up on whatever is close—your leg, your arm, the chair, and she doesn’t realize that her claws have a bit of a bite. No matter how much love and attention she is getting, she seems to need to put her paw up to make sure that you know she is there.

And the male. He is definitely becoming an alpha male. He doesn’t do the paw thing. He doesn’t have to. He just barges into the middle of the action, pushing the female to the side.

In both cases, they seem to need the reassurance of your love. No matter how much you might be focused on them already—scratching, rubbing, talking, playing—they need to see that love in their own way.

It rather reminds me of God and us. No matter how much his love and attention are aimed our way, we seem prone to have to see it expressed in our own language. Even though we already have his undivided attention, we still barge in. “See me God? Here I am. I love you. See how much I love you? Do you hear me? Do you know I’m here? Did you know that I love you?” etc. etc.

And we don’t even realize it if we run over someone else as we push ourselves onto God’s lap. It’s not that we aren’t already the apple of his eye, but we need to be reminded constantly even when our methods might be a bit obnoxious like the incessant paw or constantly licking tongue.

We can rest in his love, we really can. Like a conscientious pet owner, God has our best interests at heart, loves us faithfully, and loves to be with us. We don’t need to fight for his attention, or try to put on the best show in order to be loved.

In the same household is a cat.

Cats, of course, are different. They don’t tend to ask for the constant affirmation, but they do like hanging out, being scratched and loved on. But the dogs run roughshod over the poor cat who often just walks away, back into her own little world. Just as appreciative of love, but not so pushy.

The cat is kind of like the ‘least of these’ the Jesus talked about. Not strong enough to push their way to the front. Not so self-centered as to expect to be the center of attention.

But just as capable of expressing love, especially when being cared for one-on-one.

And maybe that’s why I care so much for the ‘underdog’ (or under cat). I know how capable of love they are, how deserving, and yet how much of a challenge it can be for them to get treated equally.

Now, if only those two attention seeking canines would quit hogging the limelight, there would be space for the feline to get some loving.


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