The Leash and the Pooper-Scooper

20 05 2009

signIn one hand, he holds the leash.  In the other hand, he holds the pooper-scooper, or a bag for collecting his dog’s feces.  One is a symbol of mastery.  The other is a symbol of abject servitude.  Is he the master, or is he the servant?  If I were to put a leash around your neck and jerk you around, deciding where you walk and how fast, how long would you put up with that?  On the other hand, can you imagine having to follow someone around and pick up their poop, wherever and whenever they feel the urge?  With a dog, it comes naturally, and we take it for granted.  It poops where it wants to, and we must pick up its feces.  On the other hand, we hold the leash, and we control its destiny.  The human is both the servant and the master.  The dog is neither.

Generally, we regard the servant as the opposite of the master.  The servant might have his own servants, and, therefore, be master to them, but we would not expect him to be both the servant and the master to the same person.  Without a servant there is no master, and vice versa.  At least, that’s the common understanding.  However, in a relationship between a human and a dog, or between a parent and a baby, the servant and the master are the same person.  The object of that servitude and the object of that mastery is neither a servant nor a master.  The dog contributes little or nothing to the relationship.  The only tangible thing it produces is defecation, and it does so with a profound sense of satisfaction.  Dogs produce their excrement not just in one confined area, but in as many places as their colons will allow.  Then, to be sure of fecal quality, they sniff the poop as though it were a flower.  They sniff each other’s poop, sometimes while it is in mid-production.  They spread it around the neighborhood.  In fact, the entire purpose of going on a walk, in the dog’s mind, is to lay a mushy one wherever possible.  What must they think when the human bends over to pick it up?  That good, is it?

The master is the servant.  She provides the food, shelter, medicine and anything that the dog requires.  The servant is the master.  She builds the fences, holds the leash, decides the training and determines the dog’s destiny.  A similar relationship exists between a parent and a baby.  The parent provides the food, shelter and clothing.  The parent even wipes its butt.  However, the parent is in complete control of the baby’s life, including everything from place of residence to hygiene.  The baby provides nothing in return.

A similar situation exists between us and God.  He needs nothing from us.  Seriously, there’s nothing that we can do for him that he can’t do for himself.  On the one hand, he’s the master.  He makes the rules, regardless of what we want.  Some of those rules are absolute, like the laws of physics.  We run too hard in the wrong direction, and we get yanked by the leash.  Other rules rely on obedience, like the Ten Commandments and such.  When he calls us to come to him, we are expected to obey.  Maybe we’ll get a reward.  Maybe we’ll just get a pat on the head.  The great thing about dogs is that they have the capacity to obey commands that make no earthly sense to them.

On the other hand, God is a servant.  He provides on this little rock everything that we need to live.  He provides within this body every organ needed to live life.  He provided the Christ to save us from our sins, effectively picking up our poop.  Some people seem to take pride in their sins.  For some, it is a thing to be done anywhere at any time the urge is felt.  One thing is common to us all, though, which is that we all produce it all of the time, and it must be cleaned up.  We can not clean it up ourselves.  The baby cannot wipe its own butt, and the dog cannot wield a pooper-scooper.

What, then, is the purpose of having a dog at all?  To some extent, it might provide protection, but this is not its primary purpose in most cases, nor is it ever the definitive function of a pet.  In every case where the servant is the master, and the object of that servitude and mastery is neither the servant nor the master, the sole value of that object is sentimental.  The dog is man’s best friend because he is filled with joy at seeing his master return.  Loyalty, devotion and trust endear him to his master.  His master loves him, because he loves his master.  Emotion drives the relationship.  Love is the bond between a parent and a child, wherever this relationship is healthy.

Therefore, it is the love of God that draws us to him.  Our primary purpose is to love God.  Everything else is secondary.  We contribute nothing tangible to the relationship; at least, we provide nothing that God needs.  However, there is one thing that we can give God that he cannot effectively give himself.  The only way to really fulfill our purpose in life is to love God with everything we’ve got.  It’s the reason we’re here at all.

Some people would not stoop to behaving like a pandering little puppy, not even to God.  The master comes home and the dog growls at him, as if to ward him off.  How do you keep a dog that threatens to bite you at every turn?  It denies the human of mastery, but it also unwittingly denies itself of the human’s servitude.

The pet waits anxiously for its master’s return.  The feral cur does not.