On Being Good at the Doorway

On Being Good at the Doorway March 6, 2021

Nessie waits.

On the other side of the door is the human she knows as “Mom,” a bone treat, and water, but she waits. First, the leash will come off, then the door will open. I take off my shoes, having said as I do every time in humor that has built over the decades (in my mind) “Honey, I’m  home.” She waits and hears: “OK.” and barrels in waggling with all her might rushing to Hope.

Nessie is a good dog. She lives moment to moment patiently waiting if the moment so requires.

Assuming we are good to Nessie, and we do the best we can, a moment of reflection shows that Nessie is less “good” than trained. She has a naturally gentle nature, was born friendly, and now is, just a bit, fearful, possibly by being abandoned. We wish her to be happy as she can be and in return she gives the affection she is able to give.

This is delightful. 

Anyone reading this is capable of giving or receiving this sort of affection, yet is also capable of something that so far as we know only angels, humans, and God can do. We can look up and communicate beyond the moment.

We can reason, choose, but also communicate beyond the door, even if we never cross that lintel. You are choosing to read a bit further right now. I am choosing to continue with my thoughts on the topic of “being good” right now. That the two “right nows” may be decades apart in time, great-grandchildren somehow finding and reading this long after I am gone, is (however unlikely) sobering and revealing.

Our words can transcend time, these words are doing so as you read! Human invention can carry our concepts forward, even if only by carving initials in a tree or with a finger in wet concrete.

The good dog moves from one time to the next and enjoys what she can. We should do the same. We must not live in the past or live for the future. Instead we live in light of past, recollecting the dead are still with us, in the present, so as to bring a better future. This counts and is more than any Nessie, no matter how delightful, can do.

We have a chance to both wait for the Master’s command, and there is natural reward there, but also like our Father God, we can see and speak beyond the moment. How? We must find ancient words that still resonate and make them our own today. We can enliven what was, apply it to what is, and so speak to those who will come. The enduring truth, goodness, and beauty will outlive us and our actions and words in its favor will endure. We can make argument, poetry, and music. Even our little efforts will go forward, though thankfully purged of what was rotten in them. (Imagine Twitter with an edit button!)


God hears any echo of His eternal nature and nothing good, as this would be, is ever forgotten. In paradise the most unknown person, speaking words of wisdom, will be recollected, the image of the Creator recognized, and glory given to God.

For Nessie, compliance with good commands leads to happiness. This is true, up to a point for us, we would be wise to comply with the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.  Since God made us in His image, we must also go beyond this training, this tendency to obey based on good outcomes: the equivalent of  bone treats and pats on the head. We must speak a true word if we can, because we are human. The Lord God invites our obedience, but rejoices in our praise.

Let us speak a true word from the past into the present for the future! Let us look with longing to cross the door and find joy evermore: treats and also truth.

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