Recently, in our home, we celebrated the birth of the fifth family to be born out of the union of two children (my wife at seventeen and myself at age eighteen) that began over three decades ago. James Michael Ryan married my youngest daughter, Sara Elizabeth, and the Ryan family was birthed.
With a family of 22 staying together for long periods of time in a very, tiny condominium, I have to now say 23 to include the world champion, white Labrador you see in the picture; we call him Dump Truck. (If you ever see me cleaning the property around my house, you’ll know where he got his name.)
Early one morning, four of my grandsons and I were sharing a tender moment as we all awakened. I had finished my quiet time, and I sat there just watching four little boys at play. There was no consciousness at that moment of that constant, faithful and almost too-intelligent-to-believe is a dog fellow sitting there. This is the same dog that instead of sniffing out the back window when my wife is driving like other dogs watches the road and my wife, as though he would be better referred to as “Hey, you in the dog suit.”
The youngest of the boys, Asher Christian Elswick, (we call him Ace) shares a common trait with which his grandfather was blessed, and that is the ability to read at two years old assisted by an iPad with phonetic lettering.
As I sipped my coffee, Asher came to me first and asked me to turn on his iPad. Try as I might, I couldn’t even get it out of its case, much less find the on and off button. In reality, really, I was being too self-centered to mess with it longer than just a few minutes. So, Asher went to his cousins, Max Richard, Samuel Lawrence and Owen Matthew, whom we call Tiger. These are the descendants of my daughter, Beth, and my son-in-law, Matt.
Yep, he went to all four of us asking us to turn on his phonetics in his iPad and got the same reaction from everyone, a brief attempt and then, “No.” Then it happened.
Just as naturally as raindrops on the window pane, Asher turned to the dog, looked him in the eyes and said, “Dump Twuck, can you turn it on for me?”
Raising his ears and tilting his head, Dump Truck then laid down with a frustrated groan in a language that only living with him could help you understand that what I’m saying is not only outrageously hilarious but true. While extremely funny, it drives a point home in our quest to find One New Man, neither Jew nor Gentile, one race, the human race.
We would do well to take a lesson from him.
No matter how many times Dump Truck has been redirected, timed out, scolded or corrected, he returns with the same loyalty, protectiveness, love and assurance by repeatedly lifting his paw to say, “I still love ‘ya, and I’m still part of the clan.”
No, my two year old didn’t get his phonetics on his iPad turned on, but what a great lesson we received as we observed it all.
We’d all do well to give up any anger, grudges, resentment or bitterness we are harboring toward our fellow humankind. Not only does Dump Truck instantly forgive, but he is ferociously adamant in his protection of us with a bark deep enough to scare an NFL football player coming to the door (and he has) – only to have to beat him off the poor fellow within a few minutes as he tries to lick the guy to death.
Oh, what a change each one of us could make if we just wiped the slate clean and held no records of wrong indefatigably consistent in unconditionally realizing that bitterness is only like taking poison and hoping the other person dies. It takes two people to have a prison. Release the one you are so angry at right now just as Christ Jesus did when He hung on the Cross praying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Recognize that none of us really realizes the implications of hurting others and the ripple effect it has in passing on that poison throughout the spectrum of the interpersonal relations of all those attempting to have communal solidarity in a world where hatred may cost the species its very existence. Forgive.
How do you do that? Well, if these words of wisdom can’t move you, the point of this whole story is: we might do well just to ask the dog.