One of my friends at school likes to insist that she has a knack for naming people’s spirit animals. Apparently mine is a mouse, which I approved of mostly because it was better than some of our other friends who got assigned a manatee or an emu. Although the whole thing is a lot more funny than serious, I have come to feel that a lot of the time animals are great metaphors for the actions of humans and even sometimes our relationship to God.
Take my family’s dog Panda. We first got Panda from a shelter where he was very skinny, only about 25 pounds (10 less than what was healthy), and deemed mildly “aggressive” and “territorial” by the shelter. Nonetheless I fell for his fluffy black and white face the moment I saw him.
Now two years later, he is a whopping 42 pounds (slightly overweight than what is healthy), very friendly, and still just as cute as ever. Basically it is hard not to love Panda. He has a record of chewing up strange objects, including bars of soap, an electric razor, a Bible (pray for the poor thing), and even a set of milk chocolate bars that left him mysteriously unharmed. Yet still it is hard not to love Panda.
In fact since I am home for the summer I constantly laugh at how my parents have spoiled Panda since I left. They feed him ridiculous amounts of treats, let him sit on the couch, and allow him to sleep not just on their bed but right next to their faces sometimes. So I constantly call him a spoiled pooch. Even still, it is hard not to love Panda.
Walking Panda is a whole different conundrum. Panda tends to zig zag back and forth across the sidewalk, right in front of your feet and against the ideal path. He pulls on the leash with futile strength because you aren’t going to go any faster. When another dog even comes into sight he cries with earnest as if his life depends on getting to this other dog, but then if you give in and let him stop to sniff he shies away. Panda also stops constantly to mark his territory in certain spots even though it is gross and frankly embarrassing to the person holding the leash. By the end of the walk Panda is finally too tired to do all those things so he will at last walk close to you and at a steady pace.
Yet amazingly, it’s still hard to not love that spoiled pooch.
I think God probably looks at me like this sometimes. I tend to pull away, mark my territory, bark at things I’m afraid of, whine when I see other dogs I think I want to get close to, rush off in the wrong direction, and it is only when I am tired that I walk closer to God’s side. Yet in the end God still says it is hard not to love me, and he will continue to spoil me. So I guess I’m just one lucky dog.
Do you have an animal that you connect with?
Or how have you seen God in a seemingly ordinary part of your life?