Tuesday, August 28, 2007

LIFE ON THE FARM: Our Puppies Can See

Now, I have nothing against other dog breeds, but I’m certain that our Golden Retrievers, besides being man’s best friend, are categorically the best dogs on the earth. First, they’re beautiful. Second, they’re intelligent. Third, they are compliant (Labrador and Poodle owners eat your hearts out!). Fourth, they’re profitable.

A good portion of my oldest son’s college education has been paid through the sales of ‘golden’ retriever puppies. Harding University Faculty owes a portion (probably a very small portion) of their income to our Goldens, and the marble staircase in the new addition to the old Heritage Center was likely funded (in large part) through our golden pups. But, there is more. Our Goldens have also provided us with a treasure more valuable than dollars. They’ve given us insight into a truth….The Truth.

The farm teaches many lessons which find counterpart in the unseen. Our puppies’ eye-opening experience is an example. The third day of their lives is monumental….it’s the day their eyes open. From then on, our puppies can see.

Before this time, they live in darkness. Other senses serve in place of sight. Mom is known through the smell of her breath, the feel of her tongue, the taste of her milk, the sound of her bark. Straw bedding has no color, no shape, nothing to which it can be compared other than Mom and darkness. For three days these cute little bundles scoot and crawl along on their tummies in total sightlessness…then comes day three.

Sudanese soldiers rape young Darfurian women, and then bite them to leave a scar. The scar will last, so these young girls will never be married. In Appalachia, nine year old boys fill summer nights with raunchy pornographic videos and erase their innocence. Teens pop pills for fun, girls exchange purity for popularity, men cheat and retreat, politicians spin. People, like blind puppies, scoot, crawl, and grope their way through life. Wouldn’t we pity puppies were their eyes not to open? What then of people?

Encouraging news. Light may still come. People navigating the dark in their lives often feel that life holds more than has yet become clear. It comes as a hunger that is not satisfied by what is first believed will fill it; or as a thirst for a sweeter existence. It isn't easily explained, or even clearly pictured, though it's strongly and deeply felt. Something senses that "it" is a reality.

The smell of milk wafts about a liter of puppies and they know she is near. Intangibles encircling us too: like a never forgotten kindness that portends the reality of something that isn’t hate filled or self-seeking; like the the hollow in a heart; like the failure to find true satisfaction, the an inexplicable (maybe even unwanted) attraction to spiritual things. Confusion, guilt, love, emptiness, grief, longing, peace, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, brokenness….they are blurry images….but of what? What are we not seeing?

On the third day, Jesus rose. The women and His disciples saw him. Their hearts had burned, but then their eyes were opened and everything was different from that day forward. Purpose, position, power, loss and gain, sacrifice, weakness, popularity, poverty, suffering, ridicule, death…everything made sense. Despair turned to joy; hardship to blessing. What had been meaningless became profoundly significant. Their eyes were open, at last, and life took on a form that wasn’t at all what they’d imagined.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” --Ephesians 1:18-19

Lord, bring day three. Open the eyes of our heart that we may see, really see, what we have felt was there, what we have longed for, what has been our companion since the start, what we sense is willing to be seen…if our eyes are open. Let us see Man’s True Best Friend. Amen.

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