God Laughs

Article by Jeanne Tessier, Edited by Dee DeWitt


God has a great sense of humor.  I came to this realization late in life, but now am frequently reminded of the reality of this (for me) quite unexpected truth.


I was raised with a God of wrath and admonition and believed from an early age that I was a creature too unworthy to be loved, much less played with and enjoyed.  Yet all the while, unknown to me, God laughs.


Here’s a recent – and personal – example of how God’s loving humor enriches and challenges me.


I had been thinking abstractly about getting a dog again “someday,” having been pet-free for seven years.  My brother Bob’s lovely border collie, Hannah, gave birth to seven pups in late fall.  Bob and his wife Kath began advocating for me to take one.  On New Year’s Day, Bob drove up from southwestern Kentucky to see me and announced that he and Kath had picked out one of the pups for me, a little one – last of the litter – they called Tough Guy.


I said I didn’t really want a tough guy, that I’d thought for years that if I ever got another dog, I’d want to name it Spirit.  Bob asked why, and I told him of a book I read years ago by Watchman Nee in which Nee talked about the importance of getting up every day and taking one’s spirit out for a walk.


Bob said he’d go home that evening, go out to the pups and call for Spirit, and whichever one came, that would be the one.  Well, that same night I dreamed … I was seated at a large gathering, where suddenly a dog came and planted itself directly in front of me, and stared intently into my face.


The next day Bob called and said that “Tough Guy” was the dog who came running when he called for “Spirit.”  A day later Kath sent me a photo of this pup…  its face was the face I had dreamed.  It began to seem that this dog was meant for me.


A week or so later, Spirit came to live with me.  He is sweet-tempered, smart, and eager to please.  He’s also feisty, stubborn, determined, and demanding, and he does not like to be still. 


I sat at my little altar one morning, a week or so after he arrived, drinking my first cup of coffee, reading a daily meditation, and trying to begin my day in stillness, mindfully, in the presence of God.  Spirit was more or less at my feet, or, more realistically, underfoot, shifting, sighing, whining, pawing, chewing, getting up and down – doing everything in his power to assure that stillness was the last thing I was going to experience at my altar that morning.  I grew steadily more irritated and was about to give up and get up, when God spoke to my heart in a voice both loving and amused.  “You got your spirit alright.”


So there it is.


I got my spirit alright.  I get up in the morning and in the evening and take my Spirit for a walk.  I realize anew nearly every day how my efforts to call and care for and connect with this dear and demanding dog is very like God’s ongoing efforts to call and care for and connect with me …


Like me, Spirit goes where he oughtn’t, eats what he shouldn’t, refuses to come when called, willfully turns his back on me, and yet … and yet … he loves me and returns to me again and again, in his own time, in his own way.


And most importantly, he needs me, he can’t live without me, he relies on me to call and care and connect, and to get him safely home.  Much as he resists my call and my instruction, he would be lost without me.  Ha!


“God is a comic, playing to an audience that’s afraid to laugh.”


“The entire sum of existence is the magic of being needed by just one other person.”
-Vi Putnam


This article was published in The Oates Journal, an online professional journal published by the Wayne E. Oates Institute to address issues of spirituality, ethics, and health for pastoral care givers and health care professionals.  The Wayne E. Oates Institute is a learning community advancing collaborative, compassionate, and integrative care.  Membership consists of professional and lay caregivers in the fields of religion, nursing, pastoral care and counseling, medicine, social work, and therapy.  For more information, visit www.oates.org.


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Posted on 25 April, 2010 in Inspirational Stories, Making the Day Count
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