Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The call of the river

There's a Springer Spaniel sitting on my lap this morning. She's been sitting on my lap for most of the last two days. We went up to our little lodge over the weekend, where she ran and played 'fetch the ball,' and 'fling yourself into the rushing river' like she was a puppy about a quarter of her age. She's been feeling the effects of it ever since. And I woke up yesterday morning wondering why my left wrist was in so much pain...then I went outside and tried to throw a ball for my dogs. Hmmm. All that throwing I did over the weekend--for TWO dogs--caught up with me, much like I'd exercised and was sore the next day. Well, exactly like that. Maica and I are old ladies, and sore ones at that.

So she's plunked herself down in my lap until all those sore muscles go away.

But that isn't the part of her weekend I wanted to write about. It's the flinging herself into the rushing river. Jamaica is a water dog, compelled by the sound and smell to find and feel and get herself in water, any water, wherever it looks like, no matter what. But here's the thing: the water outside our cabin is the epitome of a rushing river. The rapids in it would be beyond my (or anyone's) ability to catch her. Let's see if I can give you an idea: have you ever watched the Olympic event of river kayaking? The rivers seem made up to me. I mean, how could anyone kayak down such rivers, how could they survive them? The Cascade River, just outside our cabin, looks like those rivers. If I fell in, and got out beyond a step or two, I'd be a goner. I am not exaggerating.

The same is true, I know, for my Springer Spaniel. She absolutely could not survive in this river, if she got swept off her feet. Still, Maica, races down the steep path from our cabin the moment she's released from our pick-up and before we can get to her, she's in the river. This time, she only did it once...a day. It's cold. It is a mountain river, after all. Fed from so high that it never gets warm, even in the middle of a heat-wave drought-filled, fire-ful summer. And it doesn't stop flowing fast, either.

Fortunately, Maica's very sure-footed. Also fortunately, right at the bottom of our steep hill, there's a little ell where the water is still-ish. If she simply stays there, she's okay. Unfortunately, she doesn't always stay there.  Last summer, SK had to reach out and pull with all her might when Maica lost her footing.

It scares me, how attracted my dog is to something that is so dangerous to her.
I love having the dogs up at the lodge with us. I love that they run freely and sniff all those new smells and have so much fun in the woods. They're free in a different way than here. And it's what they should be able to be.

But the siren call of the river to my Spaniel, it's frightening. And, not matter what we try (fencing off the deck, keeping her on a leash, not letting her out that way), she manages to escape and makes her way to the water.

Then I think about how many things we humans are drawn to that are dangerous to us. You could list them as easily as I can. The Bible calls them temptations. The difference between Maica and us is that we have brains with understanding. I can't sit her down on the couch and say,"I know how much you love water, but the very thing you love is dangerous here. It looks pretty but you have to leave it as something to look at. Answer with one bark if you understand me." Sounds realistic, right?

But that's what temptations are to us. Sometimes beautiful to look at, but dangerous. It would be simple for me to start listing the obvious ones right about now--drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. But I have different temptations and must admit that there are swift-moving rivers in my life as well as anyone's. There are things that are morally neutral on their own, but because of how I've used and abused them, they aren't good for me.
Let me give you an example, which may seem silly, but it isn't to me. Fabric. In the last several years as I've become increasingly proficient as quilting, I've become addicted to buying fabric. Yes, I used that word. I see a new fabric line come out from one of my favorite designers or companies, and I HAVE to have it. It doesn't matter that I have an entire room full of fabric and dozens of projects in bins, and no project in mind, I simply have to buy this new line. It's a swift-flowing river for me. No, it won't kill me but it isn't good for me.

What is it for you? What is the siren call of the river of temptation?

"I have a right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything, but I will not be mastered by anything." 1 Corinthians 6:12


Pamela M. Steiner said...

I love this story about your dogs and the river...and yes, even about the temptations. I'm trying to think about what I find tempting that I cannot resist...tea cups and tea pots...I don't have room for any more. I love old books...don't have room for any more. Things that remind me of my childhood, parents, antiquities...I don't have room for any more. Yeah, those things in themselves aren't bad, but when you don't have room for them any more...or money to buy...then it becomes a problem. I've curbed the temptation pretty much lately because I don't have the money or the room, but if I get too close to something I love...it's really hard to just walk away... That's why my one word for 2015 has been "Focus"...learning to focus on what is really important in life...Christ, family, friends...things that money can't buy. I'm working on it. Thank you for this reminder to get "refocused" on the good stuff. I needed that.

Carolyn Wiley said...

Exactly, Pam. None of these things on their own is evil or wrong. Nor is fabric. It's just the compulsion we have to own when we do not need. By the way, I also have a great love (and collection) of all the things you mentioned. Teapots, old books, antiques.