Sometimes I wonder what the heck’s the matter with me.
Gerri and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the parish dinner auction last night (although I use the term ‘spent’ loosely; we tend not to be high-bidders on very many lots.)
As it happened, part of the evening’s enjoyment came by luck of the draw: Among the people seated at our table were a couple we know a little, but we’d been put together by the Auction Committee, not through any advance planning on our part. And it turned out that they had their eye on the puppy.
‘Take him home tonight!’ the auction catalog enthused. While I’d admit that the 9-week-old ‘Chorkie’ (a Chihuahua and Yorkshire Terrier mix) was cute as a button, I couldn’t imagine many things I’d rather do less than add a little doggie to my daily routines.
So it came as a bit of a surprise to me how the bidding went on the little fella. The opening bid was five hundred bucks (about ten times what I, personally, would have been willing to pay…even for a pity bid). And the price tag rose steadily until our table-mates eventually sealed the deal with one of the evening’s highest bids: $1,400.
I was happy for them, truly. I gratefully applauded their generosity on behalf of the parish. And still, I wound up a bit mystified by it all: How could a puppy – any puppy – really be worth that much cabbage?
Guess I’m just not a dog-person. Or a fisherman, for that matter. That’s the other thought that occurred to me as I witnessed the bidding on the evening’s second-highest-grossing item – the chance to spend a day with the pastor at his favorite fishing hole. In this case, the action took place across the room, as two anglers kept flipping their paddles high until the price reached $1,200. (At which point the pastor, practicing his trademark Solomonic wisdom, agreed to provide fishing trips for both bidders.)
I mean, I like our pastor and all…but twelve-hundred bucks, for the privilege of drowning a few dozen worms? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
All of which reminded me of the haunting passage in today’s reading, taken from the last chapter of John’s Gospel. In the story, the risen Jesus had just given a fishing lesson to boatful of professionals. And then, he basically commissions one of those fishermen to take on an entirely new profession – that of shepherd. ‘Feed my lambs,’ he tells Peter. ‘Tend my sheep.’
But to me, the money-line is what Jesus says next to Peter:
‘Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.’
The evangelist provides one interpretation of that message from the risen Lord. But sometimes, I wonder whether Jesus wasn’t actually trying to tell us just a little bit more: That in order to follow him, we have to be prepared to look at the world through a new set of eyes. We have to let go. We have to allow ourselves to be led, perhaps into strange and unfamiliar territories.
I don’t think this insight will change my bidding habits at dinner auctions any time soon. But being in the company of dog-people and fishermen does help me to see how narrow my world-view can sometimes be.
Could it be that the Lord has other places…other possibilities…other options…he’d like to show me?