I bet by the title of this post you thought I was going to talk about the Monk Knight of the Basque. Well sorry, it’s pretty much about my dog. Did you know that, my dog’s name is Ignatius? Iggy we call him. Let me tell you, I am not sure if any other living thing besides Jesus has taught me more about my relationship with God, well OK it’s hyperbole.
When Jess and I first started HLI we had been talking about a dog for a long time already. And we put it off because we didn’t know what the demands of HLI were going to be. But not long into our first class, we realized we could do it, we could get a dog. So we started praying about it a ton, to make sure it wasn’t a horrible idea, we traveled every month for a week or more at a time. It just sounded absurd.
Then in November we went to a retreat, having been praying about this desire for a dog. At one point during the retreat some folks are praying for us not about the dog situation, and all of a sudden the lady looks at us and says, “I feel like God is saying he wants to expand your family.” Jess and I looked at each other and burst out laughing, and said, “yeah it’s a dog he wants to give us a dog.” The lady was a bit confused, she had her own ideas of what that meant, as words of knowledge go earthlings some times project our own stuff on people. But in the end we thought awesome, we were just waiting for a stronger green light so we could get a dog. That was it here we go!
We looked on petfinder, found the cutest dog we could, went to the shelter and got’em. Never did I know how much I would come to love the damn thing.
Good ‘ole Clive said this once,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Our little fur ball unlocked a new little piece of me, and in that vulnerability, he’s taught me many lessons…
Iggy Lesson 1: Love with abandon.
Every day I come home from work, whether I’ve done a wedding or a funeral, whether I’ve visited a newborn or the dying, whether I’ve recruited 100 volunteers or 1 volunteer. There he is, wagging his tail and snorting with a toy in his mouth, excited to see me. Wanting me to touch him, scratch him, play with him, be with him (Feed him). I might have been a success or a failure that day, didn’t matter, he enjoyed my presence.
Iggy Lesson 2: Dependence brings Joy
Without me he’d starve. Without me he’d chase bikers into traffic. He is a cattle dog and wants to be in eye shot of me all the time, it calms him. I realized it’s being within eye shot of Jesus that brings me peace too.
Iggy Lesson 3: Curiosity trumps fear
When you are inside with him and want to go outside, he gets excited. When you are outside and want to go inside he gets excited. Even if he was just there thirty seconds ago, he’s ready and excited. Any type of transition to him means the possibility of new things, and toys and fun. SQUIRREL! He’s just happy to be with me, inside or out, right by my side or a little bit off. I’ve come to realize that if I’m with Jesus, curiosity of life, the world, people, trumps my fear of it.
Iggy Lesson 4: Bring a toy
Whenever any one comes over, doesn’t matter where he is, he’ll grab a toy and greet you at the door. He loves greeting people. And he wants to show you the sweet stuff he has, even if it’s just my sock. I think he taught me more about hospitality. All of you who know me, know hospitality isn’t one of my gifts. I mean my house is your house, just don’t expect me to show you where it all is. Don’t judge. But watching the smiles, and laughter that come out of people when Iggy greets them at the door, makes me think I should start jumping on people when they show up. No seriously, I just think, he enjoys people and wants them to feel love.
Long story short though, we won’t be bringing him with us to England. It’s sad, and up until very recently it was the thing putting me over the edge to tears. But I know no matter where he his he’ll be curious, he’ll love, he’ll bring a toy and have a human to bring joy to.
Iggy… sit. Iggy… stay.