In the passenger seat beside me is one who has a hard time sitting still. He has to see all that is going on, I try and encourage him to sit down in his seat, pay attention to what he is doing, or even lay down and take a nap. But he will not be quieted … must keep watch! “Simeon, lay down!” He circles on seat as if to come in for a landing, does, and springs right back up as the tractor trailer flashes by in the other lane.
Finally, thinking he would feel better if he had more room I pull over to the side of the road, move my duffel bags to the back of the pickup, slide the passenger seat up as far as possible, creating for Simeon a room space behind the seats to stretch out in comfort for the long journey. Coaxing him off his perch to his new condo I begin the journey once again. He does lay down, but he curls up in a ball right behind my seat, where there is the least room. My attempts to lure him to the passenger side where there is ample room for the big lug is to no avail, he refuses, and looks out the window for a time and then assumes the balled up position behind my seat. Silly dog.
I tend to not care for close places, I’m a big guy, I get cramped, I think they get stuffy too quickly, and are just uncomfortable in general. But there is something, I suppose, to that nearness, that closeness that is comforting. I wondered about Simeon back there behind my seat, was it the wide open-ness, the uncertainty, those huge trucks zooming by, that had him some out of sorts and that was the reason for his centurion duty in the seat beside me, thus the darkness of the close space behind my seat then brought him some sense of security and comfort?
I suppose life can be like that for us as well. All the things we encounter, our busy hectic live, we are bombarded by images, sounds, smells, all the senses can become overloaded and overwhelmed. Even though I tend to not care for close spaces there are days when I just like to get away, go in my office, in my bedroom, in the basement, close the door, leave the light off and hide for a bit. It can be renewing to remove oneself from the cares of life for a time. Just me and my shadow, unless I leave the light off of course.
But there is something within us that always calls us back, call it conscience, call it God, call it our need for relationship, I suspect call it all of these things. There is something to calls us back out of our seclusion, out of our isolation, calls us back into the light of human love and relationship … in fact, I believe it is that relationship, that relation-ality in which we are created that is the very image of God. We are created to be in relationship, not just with God but with one another. In fact, a wise man once said to me, “One cannot have a relationship with God unless they are in relationship with their fellow humankind, for who can love God whom they cannot see, if they do not love thier brother or sister whom they can see?” Good advice, good theology I believe.
I am reminded of that as Simeon rises after some time in his “hidey” place behind my seat with a cold nose in my right ear … just checking to see if I am still here I suspect, just needing to make sure, even though he has enjoyed his time away, I am right here with him. Not unlike our relationship with God I suspect … it is nice to know that even as we wander away to be alone for a time, God is still there with us, like the very air we breathe, in whom we live and move and have our being, the apostle once said. Right here, in spirit, in the love and touch of those around us. It is reason to pause and be thankful for love, for grace, for relationship, for a dog that continues to try and teach me the deeper things of life.