Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Prodigal--den Boer

Angela wanted a dog. She never passed up an opportunity to say so. I didn’t want a pet of any sort and adamantly said, “No.” Of course Angela’s younger sisters and brother were on her side.

Secretly my husband was too; but Marty knew how much I didn’t want one, so he quietly watched the campaign progress.

I didn’t want to feed or walk a mutt and I absolutely didn’t want to clean up after one. Angela begged and bargained. She would feed the dog, walk the dog and even scoop the dog. I didn’t believe her.

She argued; I argued back. She tempted me with a glorious promise. She said she would keep her room tidy to show she was responsible enough to take care of a dog. I laughed for she was promising the impossible. She smiled for she knew she had found the path to her pet.

She immediately straightened her room. She organized her dresser. She hung her clothes in the closet. She put her books on the shelf. And best of all, she quit stowing candy wrappers, pencils, hair barrettes and dirty laundry under her bed.

I was impressed. Angela didn’t miss the opportunity, “See I am responsible enough to have a dog.”
“It won’t last,” I said. It didn’t, but it took almost a month before I discovered clothes on her floor and candy wrappers under her bed.

Of course by then I was hooked on the neat room and effectively lost the pet battle by saying, “Your room doesn’t look like a dog.” Angela smiled and efficiently tidied up.

“Your room doesn’t look like a dog,” held magic. For me it meant an instantly tidy room. For Angela, of course, it meant she would get a dog eventually.

Reluctantly I found myself saying, “Maybe after our holidays.”

At once a chewed-up dog house appeared. Grandpa came to re-trim and re-shingle this garage sale acquisition for us. Then Marty fenced in the yard. The reality of a dog was closing in on me.

I was still unpacking vacation gear when Marty and the kids rushed over to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), just to look, they said.

They came home with a dog. He was a young but full-grown collie-cross with short cinnamon hair. He acted friendly and wasn’t a barker. I resigned myself to his presence.

The kids loved him. They showed him his backyard domain and his dog house, explaining that Mom didn’t want him in the real house.

The very afternoon of the day we acquired our nameless pet, Marty and I had a local wedding to attend. Before we could go Marty felt compelled to vacuum the van. For some reason there were little brown and white dog hairs on all the seats. After the wedding ceremony it began to rain, so we slipped home. We were met by tearful children, “The dog is gone.” They showed us a narrow gap in the fence. I managed to contain my inappropriate happiness.

The kids had already inundated the neighbourhood with lost-dog posters and recruited neighbourhood children to ride bicycles up and down the streets looking.

Where was that rascal?

Marty promised to scout around, but first he drove me to the wedding reception where I sat, unaccompanied, wondering about my sad family. Meanwhile, Marty cruised the streets in vain, in what had become a pouring rainstorm. He arrived at the reception just as the newlyweds were leaving.

“At least he has a dog tag,” I comforted.

“That’s still in my pocket,” Marty admitted sheepishly.

We returned to our unhappy, pet-less abode. Marty phoned the SPCA. They remembered our wonderful animal and promised to return him to us if he were picked up.

Then the rain stopped, the sun came out, and a neighbour brought the news. He had caught a glimpse of 

Rascal (for that was his name now) up the street rubbing noses through a fence, with a girl
That evening there was joy in our home. As for me, I identified with the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son.

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” (Luke 15:28)

The displeasure I felt in sharing my home with a dog and my animosity toward Rascal are reminiscent of the anger the older brother expressed at the love their father showed to his contrite brother. It is also very similar to the way we Christians sometimes feel and express ourselves when the lost and broken try to join our church families.

This is an excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress by Marian den Boer.


Peter Black said...

Marian, what a fun, yet serious, and fully human story! And my ... you take us via a different route to finding ourselves in the elder brother. :)

Electric Dog Fences said...

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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