On the eve of our flight to San Francisco so that I might serve as interim pastor in 2006, my late dog Calvin (himself an author) devoured most of a huge hardbound thousand-page concordance of the Bible. He ingested so many biblical references that he was still exegeting them on the grassy lawns of Park Merced for days after our arrival!
The last time Calvin dined on one of my books, it was Out of Solitude by Henri Nouwen. He was evidently put out that I was giving him too much solitude while preparing for my first seminar teaching Henri’s life and writings. He literally took the edge off that book, or I should say, edges and corners—because I now have a rare round and unbound edition. Shortly after that he ate one of two pages of detailed notes for one of my own books.
And to my amazement, during my first interim ministry in Atlanta, Calvin carefully removed the Sunday sermon from my bag on the floor and, when I returned home, nothing was left of either the file folder or its contents. I could honestly tell the congregation that my dog ate my homework! Thank goodness he wasn’t computer savvy, as I was able to print out another copy.
I no longer believed in a jealous God, but I now believed in a jealous dog! As Jesus with the mindful Mary and distracted Martha in Bethany, Calvin preferred my full attention, “the better portion.”
Jesus warned that many of us think we will be heard for our many words. What is heard above all else—by creature and Creator—is presence.
In Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel about St. Francis, a respected professor describes a visit in his dreams from a much beloved but recently deceased student:
He was dressed in a strange kind of robe. No, it wasn’t a robe, it was hundreds of strips of paper sewn together round his body—all the manuscripts he had written during the course of his studies, and on them were all the problems, questions, the philosophic and legal perplexities, the theological concerns: how to be saved, how to escape from the inferno, to rise to purgatory, and from purgatory to paradise…He was so weighted down with papers, try as he might he could not walk. … “Guido, my child,” I shouted at him, “What are these papers round you, these scraps that are preventing you from walking?”
“I’ve just come from the inferno,” he answered me, “and I am struggling to climb to purgatory. But I can’t. The weight of paper is preventing me…”
Calvin was my personal “hound of heaven” reminding me of the better portion.
Copyright © 2012 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite.
Chris will be leading “Claim the God in You! A Midsummer Retreat” in Roanoke, Virginia, July 13-15, 2012, hosted by the MCC of the Blue Ridge. Various events may be attended singly or together. See details on Facebook.