One of the great delights of being at home has been the opportunity to interact with my family’s dog, a seven-month-old terrier named Fritz. Even as I write this, sitting at the kitchen table, Fritz is lying in the center of the kitchen floor, stretched out as long as he can, sleeping. In a little while he’ll get up, find his tug-of-war rope, and come bounding over to one of the humans to play fetch for as long as we’ll let him; or maybe he’ll just find a spot nearer the radiator to curl up. Either way, there’s no worry—or really any kind of thought at all. As my father likes to say, fondly, “He’s just a dog.” It doesn’t take much to make Fritz happy—but he has a huge aptitude for being content.
I was thinking about Fritz this morning, and a verse from the Sermon on the Mount came to mind: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:25-27). Here in Minnesota in mid-January, there aren’t very many birds to consider, but Fritz does well instead. He certainly doesn’t sow or reap (or do homework, or go to a nine-to-five job, or wash the dishes), and yet he is perfectly well taken care of. He never worries: his food will come when it comes, and in the meantime he can doze in the warmth or go outside to play in the snow. He is the kind of beast that Christ wanted us to think about when worries come thronging in.
Once I get back to school, I’ll be surrounded again by all sorts of pressures: classes, work, thesis, people—the list goes on and on. And I won’t have a little dog to come bounding up to me with a stuffed chicken in his mouth, sure that playing fetch is much more important than anything else I could be doing. However, I’m going to remember Fritz, in the midst of all my duties, and remember his carefree nature. It’s true that I have many more responsibilities than he does—I probably shouldn’t just curl up on the floor and sleep all day—but that doesn’t mean that I should be anxious. The key is to bring the easy spirit of the dog into our very human mass of responsibilities, to bring the same single-minded cheerfulness to homework that Fritz brings to tearing the stuffing out of his chicken. This semester, let’s agree to work without anxiety, and to trust that God will take care of our needs, just as he takes care of all of his wonderful, silly creations.