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A Dog's OW: Nessie and the Object of Worship
  • Formation
John Mark Reynolds

Our dog’s Object of Worship is an orange, rubbery, sphere: a ball.  

I hesitate even to type the word, because Nessie, the Wonder Dog, has an uncanny ability to sense the word “ball.” She is looking at me now as I write, having written it, and so I suspect while you are reading that as you formed that word in your minds, she may have whimpered in her daydreams.  

Nessie regards with “great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” that orange sphere, the very definition of worship. As a result, around the wonderous one, Hope and I simply say to each other: “Should we get the Object of Worship,” lest we must deal with paroxysms of joy.   

She is not normally so hard to handle.  

Nessie is the beta to all living creatures. See her and she will submit to you. This can go poorly as when she tried to make friends with a tiny tree frog and bowing down, nose to frog, caused structural ambiguity. Nessie was sad. With other dogs, Nessie happily runs second. The School Sheep Lara has Nessie greatly intimidated. Lara stamps and Nessie rolls over.  

The Object of Worship (OW) changes everything. She would mammock the OW if she could, but she cannot so she simply chews away, rubber resisting her teeth. Nessie is blissful and nothing can distract her from joy: not the neighbor dog Penny, not treats, not the task of fertilizing the Earth. We must count the number of times she goes “fetch," or she will fetch until she drops. Pity anyone who tries to come between Nessie and the OW.  

Having given the OW energy to fly numerous times, I have had time to reflect on Nessie and the OW. Teach long enough and every activity becomes A Lesson: a hazard of the profession. Here are a few Lessons regarding Nessie and the OW: I have thought that everyone should find something to love as much as Nessie loves the OW. During one damp day, Nessie’s inordinate affection for the OW reminded me to keep my own loves in better order. I hope to love God as diligently. I have reflected on the joy she gives us in her own joy.  

Many ideas to mammock but let me be simpler.  

Nessie is a dog and not a human, so we can never experience what she does when playing with the OW. Can she even be said to “play?” How does it feel to be the Wonder Dog? What does she know and how does she know? To move too quickly to “lessons” of the sort I suggested is to love the sheer awesome otherness of dogkind. When throwing the OW with Nessie, I am standing outside her total experience, but also participating in something that appears joyful, is like joy, so far as I can tell. She is like I am, an animal, but not like I am. This is amazing and is lost if I too quickly anthropomorphize Nessie. The sheepish nature of the sheep, the froggy nature of the tree frog, all are different. 

I find my place in that great chain of being and can look up to the Object that is the end of all true respect, honor, or devotion: the Almighty God. We know, and some have seen, the orders of angelic beings who worship in their own ways, but we cannot be and never will be angelic. They are their own kind.  

This separation so obvious, but so easy to forget and not forgetting is critical to our soul health. Each kind of being exists as itself and for itself in God. Respecting the difference, watching in wonder, is part of education. I am not this, but like that.  All of nature is not a dead thing for me to consume or turn anthropomorphic. This is my Father’s world and Father God has given each creature a place.  

I am not Nessie. Nessie is not me. We are not dogs, tree frogs, or angels. Some natures are beneath our ability to experience -soul untroubled by reason in animals. Some natures are far beyond us: the reason of angels unmixed with animal bodies.  

We are certainly not God. We are in God’s Image, but God’s essence, the godliness of being God is inaccessible to us. Our God-talk is in images shaped by the revelation of God to us in the person of Jesus. A proper education will husband animals, cultivate plants, create community in the company of saints, angels, and the Good God.  

Let me go get the OW and see a bit more of the mystery of the other revealed.