Monday, January 30, 2006

Dog ears and C.S. Lewis

Tess is a mutt – a combination, I think, of every possible type of dog you can imagine. Blessed with a generally good disposition, she is not terribly smart, even for a dog. Not long ago, Tess became clearly distressed by itching ears. She clawed and scratched and pushed the side of her head across the carpet. So I held Tess still as my wife squirted some medication into the dog’s ears. Tess was not pleased.

And that made me think of C.S. Lewis.

His book “The Problem of Pain” gives us an analogy of the care of a dog and God’s care of us all. A good pet owner doesn’t let the dog merely follow its natural impulses. Instead, the owner washes it, house-trains it and teaches it to behave. While that’s happening, the dog might question the “goodness” of the owner, Lewis wrote. But after it’s all finished, the dog is introduced to a world of affection, loyalty and – my favorite part of Lewis’ analogy – “comforts entirely beyond its animal destiny ….”

Comforts entirely beyond its animal destiny. Those are comforts that the struggling puppy cannot even conceive. Yet the comforts are real and available.

Lewis, who had his own share of personal pain, wasn’t trying to dismiss human suffering or tribulation. He wasn’t suggesting that people are really like dogs. What he did suggest: Submitting to God’s care was not automatic or easy in his 1940 era, and it is certainly no easier now.

Was my stroke part of God's care? I'm not a big believer of coincidences or random events – so yes, I believe so. To what end? That will be unknown until I see the day that Lewis described: Comforts entirely beyond my own animal destiny.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Finding inspiration around you

Stroke survivor Dick Clark's New Year's Eve appearance on television was, no question, admirable. While, according to USA Today, it revealed some societal uneasiness with stroke victims, Clark also gave some inspiration to stroke survivors and families.

That being said, there's someone closer to home who gives me inspiration. I'll call him L. If he reads this, he'll know who I'm talking about. L, an elderly man, had a stroke a few years ago and serves as an inspiration to many.

He knows what it means to struggle, and he knows he'll have health difficulties in the future. He doesn't sugarcoat that. But to hear L talk about his life experiences and his unshakeable faith gives a boost to my own faith.

So by all means, admire an appropriate public figure like Clark who gives needed attention to stroke survivors. But better yet, find your own L, someone you can connect with personally, and let his or her faith strengthen your own. Then go out and be an L to someone else. That's one of my own goals.