So a couple weeks ago our golden retriever, Lola, frolicked illegally beyond our front gate. Then she rolled – joyfully – intentionally – in a foul substance that was once part of another animal’s awkward and possibly painful digestive journey. And then she ate it.
Lola is the best dog in the universe. She travels with us and she sleeps next to our bed and she has a special happy love-growl that she only does for Murray. Often when we’re alone so no one thinks I’m a freak I let her stand up tall and hug me and I croon all soppy-lovey-dovey, ‘Yes Lola-dog! Jesus made you for his glory!’ And her eyes adore me and she knows.
She entered our lives at a time when we were drowning and didn’t really know anymore which way was up and how to swim for it. She was a gift from my parents for our blind baby boy and in those first months when his world was just shifting shadows she was his constant companion. They took afternoon naps on the carpet. She licked porridge off his face. And although she got into the habit of affectionately but disconcertingly head-butting all our visitors in the crotch, with Cameron she was only ever gentle – his own golden fleece – pure poetry.
But sometimes she’s just a dog. And sometimes she drinks out the toilet bowl and walks mud through the house and just does gross dog stuff.
So – scrubbing and soaked with shampoo right up my arms and the foul substance under my fingernails and my sister intermittently turning on the hose and my three-year-old solemnly handing me the scissors like I’d said, ‘Scalpel,’ because some of the gunk had to be cut out in chunks – I got to thinking that –
Life is like Lola.
Sometimes magical and miraculous. And sometimes kind of crappy.
I got to thinking how no one is too big or too busy to wash poo off a dog because what needs to be done (truth) needs to be done (courage) and the doing is beautiful obedience.
I wondered how I might get Lola to gargle with Listerine and I thought how nothing cuts through the high ceiling of sublime philosophy quite like puke on the carpet or snot in your hair. And dogs and kids will do that. Teach you about the dirt-under-nails grit of real life that keeps us going lower like the Son of God who washed filthy feet and filthier hearts.
And I thought as I towelled her down – bedraggled – beloved – how all of it – the glorious and the gross – is worth it.