The Fourth Dog

The Fourth Dog

During last Sunday’s service, we spoke about our eventual re-entry into the post-pandemic world. As we contemplate re-entry, many of us are abundantly ready for life to return to normal. But do we want to be “normal?” Maybe something greater awaits us, something better than the status quo, better than the redundancy of “normal.”

I asked the virtual congregation to hold this question: Will we be guardians the status quo or be the place where 10,000 flowers grow?  Can we transcend the status quo and move into something magnificent for all beings?

In the midst of that question, I shared a metaphor of a dog park. (Often in my church, all paths lead to Dog).

A dog park is a small society.  Some dogs bound into the park-world leaping on other dogs, and licking faces. They are reckless. They start trouble. This is like unto those who behave recklessly in their post-pandemic re-entry strategies. We must be cautious and mindful.

But then, back in the dog park, there are the fearful dogs. These dogs hover by their human companions and fearfully hug the fence. They impose past fears on current situations. In the world of re-entry, there will be fearful “dogs” who will feel unable to move past pandemic patterns.

Then the third dog, enters confidently.   She engages in appropriate dog behavior. She wags her tail to demonstrate her good intentions, and sniffs other dog bottoms to gain a wealth of precise information.

In terms of the pandemic, we can be like the third dog who is positive, but also relies on statistics to act in accord with the greater good. This dog “trusts in God but tethers her camel too.”

As I thought about this metaphor, I thought yeah, we should be like that third dog…. But wait… what if there is a fourth dog?

Then it hit me: the third dog reconciles the affirmative first dog and the denying second dog. The third dog gives rise to the fourth dog. The fourth emerges to discombobulate the opposing patterns of recklessness and fear. This dog flips opposites. It fears the reclamation of the status quo.  It plunges into recklessness: reckless spiritual practice without attachment to results, complete trust and surrender, unabashed generosity, and grace beyond reason.

I want to welcome the fourth dog. I want to be one who transcends the status quo and emerges as a place where 10,000 flowers can grow. What will it take? Right now, the answer I get is “trust.” How about you?

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4 Responses to The Fourth Dog

  1. Bernie Austin says:

    Trust with a healthy dose of vulnerability & willingness to experience a greater path to connection, kindness and compassion. I love your dog metaphors!❤️🤗🙏🏼


  2. Deana Sherry says:

    Love this happy picture. Sing me the song of the fourth dog.


  3. Cheryl Ostrander says:

    Trust… yes, TRUST for sure. And a return to a bit of innocence that opens our hearts, that allows us to welcome a new normal.
    xoxo, c


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