My daughter and son-in-law moved back into our place while they start a new business. They brought with them two dogs, which brings our household total to four canine quadrupeds. I know what you’re thinking: “Who scoops all that poop in the back yard?” Well, the same guy who types these pearls of wisdom, that’s who. Most likely I was assigned the job of household pooper scooper because of my uncanny ability to relate to the fell beasts in our home, and that occasionally includes the dogs. Some call me the misfit dog whisperer, though I’m not entirely sure who is the misfit. In any case, I have come to embrace the scooping of dog poop as a transcendental path to wisdom.
How, you might ask, does scooping dog poop lead to wisdom? Well, one has to humble oneself to scoop dog poop. You won’t catch a narcissist scooping dog poop. But first let me say that selecting the proper tools is crucial to successful poop scooping. A simple shovel will not do, for ergonomic reasons, when scooping volume poop. A shovel requires the scooper to repeatedly bend his or her back when scooping. It’s better to go to one of those warehouse pet stores and buy an official scooper and pan with long handles so you don’t have to bend over repeatedly while scooping. You also need a pair of old shoes that you detest because, trust me, no matter how careful or persnickety you are, you WILL step in poop . . . a lot. This, or course, teaches us to not hold on to material possessions, which isn’t all that difficult once they’ve been baptized in dog pooh.
Need more examples of the mystical benefits of scooping poop? Scooping poop requires the dulling of one’s senses to a certain degree, especially the sense of smell. When you dull one sense, others senses come alive with greater intensity. When I scoop poop, I become more keenly aware of the breeze on my skin, the chirping of birds in the yard, and the looks of my dogs (who watch from a safe distance) that seem to inquire: “Why do we call you Master when clearly your status in this home is not what you’d have us believe?” Ignoring their condescending expressions, I encourage myself with the thought that I have become a master at spotting petrified dog poop amidst a sea of like-colored decorative bark. Occasionally I am rewarded for my efforts by a dog poop that reveals the diversity in diet that our canine friends enjoy, often unbeknownst to us. Yep, just yesterday I found two poops containing large chunks of Cindy’s chartreuse flip flops. This gave me an epiphany—we humans, like the dogs, consume both good and evil throughout our lives, but only the good can nourish us. Or it might just mean that Cindy has poor taste in flip flops.
But let’s return to the topic of humility. The most important life-lesson I’ve learned from scooping dog poop has to do with male pride. If a guy has to scoop dog poop, it keeps his feet firmly planted on solid ground. Dog poop does not suffer pride in a man. If a man can’t bring himself to enter the domain of his own dogs to scoop the poop, well, he may be headed for the proverbial fall that follows pride. Perhaps presidents, and members of Congress, and captains of industry, and even some high priests in the clergy should all be required to own a dog and scoop the pooh. We’d likely have less crap going on in the world. (I crack me up sometimes.)
Scooping dog pooh in volume requires such concentration that one does not have room in the cranium to worry about life’s cares and woes while transferring poop from the yard to the waste bin. In other words, scooping poop enables the mind to zone out for a while. Scooping poop also buys a guy a lot of chore cred at home. When my wife berates me for neglecting to load the dish washer or failing to take out the trash, I need only remind her, in a gentle tone, who it is that scoops the poop, and the berating comes to an abrupt end. Of course I still have to load the dishwasher and take out the trash. I’m not THAT dimwitted.
Christians get accused of trying to use the political process and laws to stop people from having fun and experiencing fulfilling lives. (Ironically, the political process is the definition of un-fun.) Many folks believe entertainment, fulfillment, jesting, and gaiety (just so there’s no jesting about gaiety) would mostly be eliminated from society if Christians had their way. The question Christians should ask is: Should we shove our values down the throats of adults who have little comprehension of all the spiritual and physical ramifications for immorality? Heck, I’m not certain most Christians understand all the ramifications. When it comes to sin, adults have freewill. We’ve had freewill since the Garden. (Of course some of the “fun” sins I’ve indulged as an adult fall into the category of childish . . . . which though ironic, won’t get me off the hook in God’s eyes.)
Some of the fun yet immoral things people enjoy clearly cause physical or psychological harm. The harmful effects of other fun activities prohibited in the Bible are not so clear and we take it on faith that God does not want people to indulge them because they harm us in some way. Granted, we have an obligation to prevent behavior that harms people and society, especially behavior that harms the most innocent and vulnerable among us. On some issues we need to take a hard stand. But again, we can only take it so far before freewill trumps our efforts to protect adults from harm.
Last year I got hooked on Duck Dynasty. It’s a TV show about a multi-generation family (the Robertson’s) who found financial success making duck calls for hunters. At first, the Robertson brothers, uncle, and father come across as a bit edgy with their long hair, beards, and Southern drawl. But as you watch more episodes, you become aware that these guys are just having a good time, despite conflicts and setbacks in life. The program shows how faith is a key component of their life.
Some Christians say that God doesn’t promise us happiness or fun times. I suppose there is fair amount of truth in that theological argument. On the other hand, I don’t recall God promising us nothing but suffering in this life. Sure, we will have problems, but we can often choose whether to have some fun along the way. The alternative is to become a dour bitter Christian who has no joy in life and takes delight in thwarting the joy and fun of others. Genuine Christians with a truly transformed heart don’t like to see people have fun in sinful ways because of the damage it causes. They love people so much that they hate to see them harmed.
Before you theologians point out that I don’t know the difference between joy and fun, let me just say that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the demonstration of the ability to have fun can be a great testimony of the presence of deep joy in a Christian’s life. So don’t feel guilty about having fun. It is possible to have a great deal of fun without slipping into debauchery.
I’m sitting here trying to think of some profound recent spiritual experience to share with you, but nothing comes to mind. That’s life. Maybe next week. In the meantime, here’s an irreverent joke that tickled my fancy:
My mother-in-law accused me of talking behind her back and pushing her around. “But mom,” I said, “you’re in a wheelchair.”