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You can't always have what you want.


One of my earlier childhood memories is hiding down a ditch watching my family walk past. They were, at that point, oblivious to my running away. It was a New Year’s Day, a sunny crisp one that had been accentuated my my Grandma’s divine roast potatoes. I was about seven. And I wanted a dog.

The refusal to engage in the conversation (“you are not having one”) was the trigger for my flight. I wasn’t going to stick around with this group of unreasonable people who wouldn’t let me have an adorable waggy tailed friend.

And thats when I found myself becoming part of a travelling community of dog lovers, roaming the world entertaining the masses.

*insert screeching end of day dream sound*

No- I don’t recall how it ended but I was back at my grandparents in time for one of those post feast teas where everyone stuffs white carbs into their overloaded bodies.

We never got a dog as a family.

And so two years ago, when I moved here, I resolved to get a dog. I have the perfect house for a dog. Enclosed garden spaces, big bit to play on, opposite a big mown field and a wood and the list goes on.

And I want a dog. I like having a buddy. There is something amazing about having a warm bundle of something to greet you when you get in. I like hill walking and having a walking companion with you is helpful for all sorts of reasons. Yes, they are a “tie”. But I increasingly found gathering places where it is OK to take a dog. Dog friendly pubs and rooms in hotels. Places that sell dog beer.

A month or so ago I created the space in the house for a dog. I moved some rubbish out to make space for a crate. I shuffled a sofa to make space (by a radiator) for a dog bed. I began to tuck away wires. I told people I was going to get a dog.

And then I went to look for dogs. I had done some careful research about which would suit my lifestyle, which I would just find annoying and which were wholly incompatible. I knew I was desperately allergic to cats. But that was OK because I never really liked cats anyway. But I would be fine with a dog. Sure there were some dogs that left me wheezy and itchy but that was more them than me.

Rubbish.

Last Friday I went to visit some puppies. And I found the one that I would love to love. He was endearing and had a kind of dog collar marking which was cute and the list goes on. I picked him up and he was happy. I was happy. My skin wasn’t happy. But I told myself that it would be fine. Maybe it would be OK.

Two hours later and was in pain. Eyes, skin blah blah.

There was no excusing or escaping the fact that I am now (and perhaps always was) allergic to dogs.

And I’m pretty upset by that. There is something that inevitably feels cruel about being denied that which you have dreamed of since you were a child. (and before you all start, yes I know its just a dog.. or an allegory)

Some folks have suggested that prayer might fix it, or that if I get a big injection that might make it OK. There have been thought that I might be able to have one (as long as I don’t touch it, or let it get to close for too long). We live in a world where if you have enough faith or enough cash someone will tell you that you can have whatever you want.

But I think that just makes it worse.

I think on this one I have to make peace with worldly limitation. Its an unusual concept. We find it utterly unjust when we can’t have exactly what we want. We call God cruel and contend that it can’t possibly be his plan. Sure people across the world can’t afford to buy bread- but heck isn’t it mean that I can’t have exactly what I want.

My reflection is this. Limitation is part of life. We don’t always get to have what we want. As a follower of Jesus I have a faithful example- He who chose to limit himself. For the Christian limitation has to be a choice; because we are not solely responsible to ourselves but to our neighbour and to others (hence not spending a small fortune on immune system therapy). When this limited world is renewed I won’t be allergic to dogs: me, St Francis and Paul O’Grady will be found playing fetch on a field somewhere. Until then I have to live with my limitations, and look for, and give thanks for the other opportunities that living with limits brings.

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