The moment she managed to wriggle free from my grasp and escape the tub, she was thoroughly lathered with conditioner.
I was trying something new. Instead of leaning over the tub, knees and back aching all the while, I decided to change and climb into the tub with her. A splendid idea, really. The relative size of tub and puppy seemed more accommodating with me in it, plus I had (I thought) a better chance of holding her still while she alternated between standing in complete, sodden misery and twitching her hind quarters in anticipation of the Great Escape.
I should have noticed she had been inching closer to the small space between the wall and the shower curtain. I should have also remembered that she’s smarter than I am and infinitely more observant, so I was caught shamefully unprepared when I reached to refill the rinse water and she leapt.
Skidded across the bathroom floor. Shook vigorously. Sheets of conditioner-laden water slapped the walls and the (thankfully) closed door, and soaked the floor.
Her ears and tail lifted enthusiastically. She scampered into her crate. Shook again.
Sitting helplessly in the tub, I tried to coax her back. Yeah, right. Clearly, I had not considered first law of nature as it pertains to dog bathing: she will escape. She will shake.
Later, as I spread towels across the wading pool formerly known as my bathroom floor, I wrapped the wee lass in multiple towels. She snuggled into me for the complimentary massage included in the Misery Bath Package. She grunted and rumbled her approval as I toweled her off, after which she tore around the house like a holy terror for a good half hour.
As I mopped up the water from the floor, door and walls (and as I write this it occurs to me that I still need to go toss her bedding in the dryer), a spur of joy rose up in me. Here I was on the eve of a Christmas I was stubbornly slogging through, soaked head to toe, and joy was there. Suddenly. Brilliantly.
I wonder if we sometimes over-spiritualize joy. Don’t get me wrong. Joy is deeply spiritual, and its source is a wellspring of abundance. We forget too often, though, the human need for the tangible. Something we can hold and see and taste. Thank God that He never forgets we’re human.
The past fourteen months have been harrowing. The loss of dear ones have left wide wounds not quickly, or easily, healed. This heart is still shuffling along; kicking at the stones of grief littering my path, and the number of times I get tripped up is overwhelming.
I have said many times over the past year that I didn’t realize how much our home needed Rinna. I should have, perhaps. Even just her name, which popped into my head quite randomly, appears to have been a gift. I remember my surprise upon Googling it, wondering whether it was even a real name. Turns out, it is: Hebrew, in origin, and means ‘joyous song’.
Joyous song, people. Hold me.
How does a perfect God perfectly love a broken people? In ways both mysterious and tangible. We will never fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father is for us… love that came down and hung on the cross. Before we even loved Him. Yet, He also loves us as we are: a simpering lot of fragile, doubting humans who need real stuff to hang on to. We need evidence and He knows it. Daily, then, He sends us what we need: sunsets, flowers opening at dawn, people to love and who love us back, encouraging notes in our mailboxes, the right song on the radio.
And, as it turns out, rambunctious, divinely-named labradoodles capable of flooding a bathroom with a single bound. Just so that little ol’ me, sitting on a tile floor, can be reminded on Christmas Eve that joy is real. And brilliant. And pure.
Merry Christmas, my friends. May your joy find its source in our rag-swaddled King of Kings and its evidence, by His abundant and powerful grace, in the messy, broken, up-side down, nitty gritty of your life.