The readings this morning had me on all sorts of bunny trails and I am glad to see that readers will dip back into Judges for the conclusion of The Song of Deborah so that I may share some of my tangential thoughts about that passage and the Old Testament book, Judges, in general, tomorrow.
I had put aside my reflections earlier this morning to get to an exercise class and on the way I witnessed a sweet little scene between a woman and her dog. I think I noticed because as I drove to class, my thoughts were making their way back from one of the bunny trails I had taken off on reading Judges. I was thinking about how much fear of the OTHER is deeply embedded in the stories of Canaan’s settlement by the Israelites and especially in Judges.
I live in a neighborhood where traffic jams during the morning commute are more likely a result of dogs and their owners than autos. I used to be part of the traffic until my beloved dog died a few years, ago. Now, I just delight in seeing who’s out with what dog, how the dogs match up with their owners, how the young ones lead – or not – how the older folks with the older dogs seem so patient with each other. Just the other day, I witnessed a late 70’s-early 80’s gentleman holding in one arm his three legged aged mutt while walking with a cane along his sidewalk – just to the end and back – a few times, like laps. So sweet.
So this morning, as I leave my neighborhood I was surprised to notice no dogs, no walkers. I was a bit disappointed but then think, well, it is Friday after all – people getting ready to leave town for the weekend.
Then, as I enter a commercial district where cars dominate, walkers are few, and dogs even fewer, I saw at a stop light an Asian woman with an American Beagle on a red-white-blue- leash making repeated attempts at getting the dog to heal. She was stopped with the dog at an intersection so that I could hear her speaking to the dog. She wasn’t speaking English. That’s why I mention that she was Asian. She was in full conversation with the dog. And this little all-American Beagle just looked up at her with the most earnest eyes.
It made me recall a Pinterest ‘meme,’ – memes, the ones that pay tribute to dogs – and especially their unique place in the relationship with their owner as one who gives unconditional love. I know many have the same feelings about other animals. My son sees in the calves he is raising a soul that others are hard pressed to perceive. But in the culture, it is the dog that has secured a primary place in the human-animal relationship arena.
But though I have been a dog owner, and appreciate the sentiments expressed in these memes, it is the Lord, God I think of every time. My mind just switches it up so that when I see the word DOG, I read GOD.
One popular bumper sticker reads, “DOG is my co-pilot,” and I think yea, not really. God is our co-pilot – a reverse of a reverse.
So with this one (here to the left) which I saw last week on Pinterest and saved. Its truth runs both ways – my dog did see me in the most loving, un-judged way. My dog had so few expectations of me, just loved me up, and delighted in any and all time she could be my companion.
Works that way with God, too.
And that is what I thought of this morning when I saw the Asian woman with the American Beagle. God sees us, loves us, hears us, in our own specialness and particularity – every hair on our head. And we speak to God from that particularity. We speak our own language to the Lord, God.
And this is true for all of humanity. God sees each person you know, each person you don’t know, as the person God called them to be – as the person God believes you, them, to be.
I suppose this little reminder resonated in part because of the strong US-THEM language in the Old Testament readings this past week. The OTHER is the bad guy. The OTHER is the loser, the heathen, the rich, the…whatever. Point is the OTHER is what I am not.
But the OTHER is also the Asian woman on the corner with her dog. And with her God.
Lectionary Readings: AM Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38; PM Psalm 73
Judges 5:1-18; Acts 2:1-21; Matt. 28:1-10