Sitting on a beach along the Puget Sound near Everett, I watched a man throwing sticks for his dog to fetch.
Actually, he was throwing a drift log. It was about five feet long. The man would heave it into the water and his dog would paddle out, grasp the log in his mouth, and paddle back to shore. A couple of times, the man pounded the log against some rocks to break it apart. When he threw a smaller piece, his dog just sat there, wanting nothing to do with a mere stick. I noticed that when the dog swam out to get the log, his tail was still, but when he came back to shore, even in the water, he wagged his tail.
Theologian Matthew Fox once said his dog was his best spiritual director. As I watched this dog retrieving small logs, I thought about the spiritual lessons God was giving me through the dog.
When life hands me more than I can chew, there is often a way. Sometimes the dog had to try a couple of spots on the log before he could get his mouth around it, and he always found a spot he could manage.
Big challenges are often the most rewarding. It is good to feel proud of accomplishments – go ahead and wag your tail! At the same time, smaller challenges can also be fun which that dog did not want to admit.
Go ahead and jump in all the way. I tend to be cautious and stand at the edge of life. This dog did not hesitate to plunge into the water again and again. When I’m willing to go all in with something I step outside of my own concerns and hesitations to live life to the fullest. Sometimes life is messy, uncomfortable and complicated, and when I allow myself to delve into it, I have the best time.
The most fun and rewarding experiences involve others. The dog could not throw the log into the water on its own; he needed his owner to throw it in for him. The owner too had more fun because he interacted with his dog.
I left the beach that day with lessons about persistence, pride, daring and relationship. The Kingdom of God is like a dog on the beach. It was a good day.