Bryancti told me to post this story. I do have a filter, believe it or not. Possibly not a very fine one, but there are things I will not post. Also, long ago the Milk Guy said in no uncertain terms and with a look on his face that presaged vomiting, "No more poopy stories!" But the Milk Guy no longer reads this blog I think, and anyway, when I was talking to Bryancti about it, I got this deep spiritual insight (for real) and then I felt like I had to post it. Please don't read this if you're faint of stomach and can't handle fairly graphic descriptions of dogs' bodily functions. I would censor it if I could, but then the point will be lost, so . . . just don't say I didn't warn you.
Yesterday during my lunch break at work, I took Oscar for a walk, as is my wont. Oscar, as is his wont, began to relieve himself. Only . . . he got stuck. I'm not entirely sure why he gets constipated when he does, except that he's an intense little guy . . . Anyway, so we're standing out there for quite some time, poor little dog struggling away, and then finally he produces something. Yay for him! Sometimes, after he goes, Oscar does that doggy butt-dragging thing to wipe himself on the pavement, and it's fine, only this time when he did it, there was still a big ol' poop dangling from his rear end. It got all over the sidewalk and all over his hindquarters. Disgusting!
I knew that if I brought him back into the church and he sat down anywhere, soon poop was going to get all over that "anywhere," and so my brain started churning as I tried to figure out how and where I was going to clean him up. I finally settled on the Sunday school bathroom in the basement, which is where we immediately marched as soon as we got back inside. I hoisted him onto the counter with his hindquarters over the sink and turned on the water.
Paper towels only went so far. He's got tons of really curly fur (this was, of course, the day before his annual grooming/shaving), and his waste products had gotten all stuck in this, so eventually I had to use my bare hand. It took about half an hour to forty-five minutes to get him all cleaned up, and then clean the bathroom, and then wash my hands about twelve times, and I really just didn't want to touch anything for a while, let alone my lunch, which was a bagel and really familiar-looking sunflower-seed butter. (Looks like peanut butter, only goopier. You get the idea, I think.)
After telling him this story, Bryancti said, "I hope Oscar appreciates all you do for him." I would hope so, too. But of course he doesn't. He hasn't a clue. He wasn't enjoying the process much either, and when we got back to my office, all cleaned up, he went straight over to the table where I keep his cookies, sat down expectantly and looked at me as if to say, "Sheesh! I need a treat after all that!" I thought to myself, "Dude. I'm the one who needs a treat."
After Bryan said that thing about Oscar's appreciation, though, a lightbulb went on in my head. I thought . . . this must be a little bit like what it's like for God to take care of us. We go along our way, doing our thing, and then suddenly, somehow, we get poop all over ourselves. I really don't think the analogy is going to far. Life's sometimes like that. We might want to blame God for the poop, but it isn't actually His fault. We digest, sometimes better than others, our live experiences and then, uh, poop happens, as the bumper sticker likes to remind us. I suspect most of us are fairly talented in somehow wallowing in it when it does, even if we think we're trying to get out of it.
Then God, because He loves us even when we're poopy, and also possibly because He'd really prefer not to get poop all over the Kingdom of Heaven, mercifully picks us up and begins the process of cleaning us up . . . by hand. The cleansing process is usually less comfortable and less fun than getting poop-covered was in the first place, and we think God is so mean, and after we're through it we think, "Man. God owes me!"
I don't think I ever realised in quite this way how much God Himself goes through to clean me up. I mean, it's the Incarnation, and the Cross, and the Resurrection, but sometimes those words just sound like theology and it just sounds general . . . for all the world (which it is) and for all sin (which it is), and I forget to think how God is personally involved in my personal and individual processes, and that maybe He feels stuff about it, and that maybe we still get Him messy. He's the one, of course, who we owe, but he doesn't ask for us to pay Him back, just like I wouldn't ask Oscar to.
God knows we're never going to fully appreciate what He has done and keeps on doing for us; I suspect He knows we can't fully appreciate it. But when Oscar comes over with his tail wagging and wants to play or licks my face or snuggles up next to my shin on the bed, it's worth it to me, just as God delights in our enjoyment of Him. I'll never realise what God goes through to put me right, I don't think. But having washed Oscar's poopy butt, I think I have a slightly better idea.