Dog & Butterfly
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
- Rabindranath Tagore
The other day I had an epiphany of sorts when conversing with my son about whether or not dogs understand the passage of time.
I've learned that these are the conversations you have with your kids from time to time when your limits of knowledge are tested, and you either know what you're talking about or do your best to sound like it.
The good news is that I at least had a rudimentary understanding of how dogs process the passage of time from something I read once.
I told him that dogs are conditioned to anticipate future events based on past experiences and can sense when things may happen because of this conditioning.
But if you leave your dog at home when you go to work, your dog has no idea what you meant when you said, "I'll be back this afternoon."
When you come home, your dog doesn't wonder why you were 20 minutes late because you had to go to the store. The dog just knows that you left and then you came back. Most likely, they slept 80% of the time you were gone anyway.
You might be wondering where all this is going.
The quote at the top of this page was in my notes, and when I read it today, I recalled that conversation with my son, and I also realized something important.
Human beings are unique in that we can measure time (to an extent), but because we do, we tend to lose something along the way. We lose the ability to be present in the now. And when we lose that ability, we find ourselves a bit lost when it comes to our ultimate purpose.
Dogs and butterflies don't have this problem.
To them, there is always time enough. They may not have the gift of abstract thought, but they understand their purpose, at least the one ingrained in them by their Creator.
And what is that purpose? Simply to reflect the glory of God's love and goodness to the world around them.
This they will do when given a chance. They reflect God's glory with all they are because they intrinsically know that is how they serve the Universe. They live from moment to moment, always present in the now. Each, in its own way, shows God's nature and creative love.
Some folks might think this an over-simplification or a stretch to make a point, but there's some beautiful truth in this, my friends.
What if we approached our entire lives this way? What if we sought in all that we did to reflect God's glory to the world in the best way possible?
It might look like doing what work we have to do with joy and creativity.
It might look like living in confidence that the image of God is within us.
It might look like recognizing the beauty in simple, ordinary things.
It might seem like letting go of our need to control the future.
It might look like releasing our regrets or sentimentality over the past.
It might look like living in serenity within the eternal possibility of now.
May we find the way to live into our glorious purpose for the glory of God each and every moment. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all now and forever. Amen.
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