Jan 26, 2018 filed under Faith, Love.

Dog and boy

By Melissa Lewis.

My eight-year-old nephew, Quin, was explaining to me how electrical circuits work. He had a board on the coffee table into which you could snap various plugs and wires and connectors to link a double A battery at one end to a small light bulb at the other end. He explained, “Now, Aunt Missy, if I unhook these wires or take out this section or turn this piece this way instead of that way, it breaks the circuit and the electricity can’t flow, but if I close all those gaps it completes the circuit and the bulb lights up. See?” It was a very clear explanation. Not being very science-minded, I actually learned something.

A few days later I got to thinking. I wondered, if a dog had been curled up on the couch with me, listening to Quin’s explanation, could the dog have been able to understand how an electrical circuit works? My conclusion was no. A dog just doesn’t have the kind of mind that can understand things at that level. It wouldn’t have mattered how clear Quin’s explanation was or how many times he repeated it; a dog simply isn’t equipped to understand the details of human speech, much less the principles of electronics.

Then a few days later I got to thinking about something else. It occurred to me that when something bad happens, for instance, when someone we love dies–especially if they die young or tragically–we often set to work trying to figure out why it happened. We rack our brains trying to find the reason that we had to suffer this terrible loss. It’s only natural to want to understand why things happen as they do, but I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to the workings of God . . . man, we are the dog.

Scientists say that we only use at most about 10% of our brain’s potential. Do I actually think that I, with my little 10% brain, can figure out the workings of the all-knowing, all-seeing Creator of all Heaven and Earth, the benevolent Spirit that organizes everything from the tiniest snowflake to the most colossal galaxies? Can my limited mind possibly understand the infinite Power that can bend the laws of time and space to produce astounding miracles? I can’t even figure out how to set the timer on my coffee maker.

woman wondering

There’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out God. Theologians have spent lifetimes trying. God is a fascinating subject. But just as a dog isn’t equipped to understand things at the human level, I don’t think we are equipped to understand things at God’s level.

However, I believe we are perfectly equipped to feel God, to experience God. But it doesn’t happen in our minds; it happens in our hearts. And the path to get from the mind to the heart is love—the love we feel for those who have touched our lives, whether they’re still with us or have moved on. When we take the time to relive the warm memories of those we’ve loved, our hearts can give us a sense of peace that our minds never could. Even better is when we come together, in a spirit of community, to share the love we feel for those who have touched our lives so profoundly.

So we’re not here tonight to try to “make sense” of what happened. Instead, we’re here to share in the experience of opening our hearts with the memories of those who meant so much to us. We may not be equipped to understand the big picture, but we are perfectly equipped to join together in a spirit of love, support and remembrance. After all, even dogs can love.

Thanks to Melissa Lewis for being our Guest Blogger this week! This reflection was part of a memorial service for hospital patients who had died at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, MD, where the author was working at the time. Melissa is now a chaplain at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. She can be reached at melissa.lewis@msj.org. Hope you enjoyed Melissa’s insights — see you next week! — Rose

6 Responses to “Why Ask Why?”

  1. Linda Hartzell

    “We are the dog.” I love this, Rose.
    Such a simple reminder that we should accept the will of God in our lives.

    Often we hear that dogs display “unconditional love.”
    The world would be a different place if humankind possessed this quality.

    Dear Lord, I pray that I will accept and love all I meet today and everyday. Amen.

    • Rose Folsom

      Dogs, in their animal way, definitely show us God’s love. I was at a friend’s house once, sick, and her little poodle, Pierre, kept vigil near my couch all day. When is it better to forego my ability to analyze and judge — and just, like Pierre, show concern?

  2. Faye McAneny

    Knowing is a gift.
    Feeling is a precious gift.
    Being in this moment is the best gift of all.
    Thank you for this insight and the humility it brought me too. Woof!

  3. Tom Roberts

    Psalm 8:6 declares “Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.” God is indeed beyond my understanding and many of the physical phenomena mentioned such as the formation of snowflakes are beyond my understanding, but not beyond everybody ‘s. I do know as a scientist that we use more than 10% of our brain capacity. In fact in a given day every brain cell may be active at one time or another, but some cells sometimes must be quiet so we can think yes, no and maybe. In my career I have designed many electronic timers but I purposely do not buy a coffee maker with a timer because I can’t figure out how to set it.

    Perhaps we need the wisdom to discern when not to “make sense” of that which is in God’s domain, lest we come up with a logical elephant ( a mouse built to government specifications).

    • Rose Folsom

      Interesting that some brain cells we are not “using” at the moment are resting to help us make moral (and other) decisions. It makes my day to know you have trouble with the timer on your coffee pot like the rest of us. So can you design us one we can understand?