Sometimes different parts of one’s life collide. I use “one’s” instead of “my” because I know it happens to most people, who do various different things in their life and then find them bumping into each other in various ways. It happened to me this weekend! As any regular, or even occasional, reader of this blog will know, I’m a Minister in the Church. They’ll also know I’m a rugby referee. What you may not be aware of is that I’m a “dog person”, and that we’re becoming more and more likely to get a dog in the near future. And I have a very specific breed of dog in mind!
Yes, I want a Border Collie, as pictured above. Anyone who doesn’t know better might think the dog above is hunting, but anyone who knows the breed will know this is a collie in classic herding pose: head low, back up, tail down, ears focussed on the flock, ears pricked and listening for commands from the shepherd. Yesterday, after the match I was refereeing, I noticed an absolutely gorgeous red & white collie running around, and sought out the owner to ask where he (the dog, that is (and it was a dog), not the owner) came from. The dog was clearly bright and well trained. Sent to fetch a stick it would bring it back, drop it near his owner, and then do the classic “circle and drop” that anyone used to watching collies at work will know. Once again I felt myself succumbing to a desire to go straight out and but a puppy.
I didn’t. But what I did do is have flash of inspiration for my sermon this morning. The image of a sheepdog at work allowed me to explore ideas about actions being louder than words, caring for the flock, and being one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father, all in one go! It meant ditching my script (I don’t always preach from one anyway) and preach extempore, but it seemed to go down well and be appreciated by folk, so that was no bad thing. I did find myself at one point though, since part of my point was that actions are often more meaningful than words, wishing that I already had a well-trained young collie to direct around the sanctuary in order to make the point visually. Alas, it’ll have to wait for another time – but one day, one day, in the not too distant future, it will be possible!
Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, a preferrer of human company, or a preferrer of your own company, travel well.