Lessons Found In Snow & Dog Poop

    Have you entered the 
    storehouses of the snow
    or seen the storehouses 
    of the hail, which I
    reserve for times of
    trouble, for days of
    war and battle?

Neverending Mystery

Snow covered the yard. Layers of it had been laid down by one storm after another. The landscape was a rolling white majesty.

There was no chance to stay ahead of it. Every time we dug out, before the shovels were put away, it was tumbling out of the sky once again.

Each day was as beautiful as the next. The pureness of fresh snow is a wonder to me. Even as an old geezer with creeping some-timers, when big snowflakes are wafting down I can stand at the window and be filled with giddiness that wells up from some nearly destroyed innocence.

Or better yet, to be outside in it—to simply stand with arms outstretched and face turned skyward to let the flakes hit my cheeks and settle on my lips is an exhilarating moment of renewal. It takes me back to a time and place before the dreamy bubble of childhood was dismantled by the relentlessly hard realities of life.

The first snowfall of the season is always the best. I’ve been known to get downright silly when the temperature drops low enough for nature to unload moisture in little fluffy packages—it’s miraculous to me. The feelings churn into an energy which would be incredible to be able to tap into at will, but that’s not possible.

One time, early in our thirty-seven year marriage, Anita woke up in the middle of the night because she heard me laughing—she caught me at an open window, with my face pressed against the screen trying to catch a snowflake on my tongue. She giggled and joined me, snuggling close against the frigid air—we shared a tender, captivating closeness.

That moment has never left me. The expression glinting in her eyes was so saturated with joy and affection that it unnerved me—there was an unconditional comprehension and acceptance in her manner.

It was evident that she hoped for goodness and possibility for me—she saw something suppressed within that I couldn’t, wouldn’t, or didn’t want to find for myself. Her look steeled me with a double-shot dose of encouragement.

So yes, I am one of those kooks who nurture an abiding appreciation for snow—it persists in being a neverending mystery to me.

Prissy & Fastidious

At the beginning stages—when the flakes initially descend—my friend Gus enjoys the snow with me.

Frolicking around in it is just fine and dandy—even gobbling up mouthfuls of the latest powdery offering has its appeal, but at some point, she stops being impressed by snow. When the accumulation becomes great enough to inconvenience or disturb her daily routine she goes into a brooding funk that is funny to behold.

Before going any further let me tell you about Gus. She is a nearly eight year old Shetland Sheepdog who partnered up with me when she was weaned at seven weeks, immediately curling up in the hearth of my heart. Since then we’ve shared our lives together, having some of the most profound theological conversations one could ever imagine.

Though she has a male nickname in honor of a fictional western hero of Lonesome Dove fame, and mostly has tomboy characteristics, she can be prissy and fastidious, much like a prima donna Hollywood starlet. She has undeniable human idiosyncrasies, and is especially genteel when it comes to the particulars of her morning or evening constitutional.

When the customary place to do her business gets buried beneath piles of snow, she takes an unusual course of action—she refuses to squat until it becomes absolutely necessary. And then, when it’s apparent that she’ll have to deal with snowy conditions for awhile, she does something that demonstrates an intelligence or instinct that’s remarkable—she reduces her food consumption.

To me, that’s exceptional thinking, considering the fact that many adult human beings have yet to figure out the connection between intake and output. The bulk of what goes in must, sooner or later, come out.

Gus is seldom difficult to get along with, but just like any of us, when irregularity comes a-knocking, she gets out of sorts and can be a bit cranky. She mopes around, staying close to my feet and generally demanding extra pampering. She also takes every opportunity to shoot me a stink-eyed look designed to elicit sympathy and/or empathy—in this she’s quite often successful.

It is in those times that my tri-colored companion has this clearly expressed expectation for me to sweep or shovel a proper area for her to have the space to evacuate her bowels. And it has to be right down to the grass, thank you very much. Of course, I always give it my best effort to accommodate her.

Foul Minefield

Last week, a burst of springtime came to south-central Pennsylvania. It was blue-skies beautiful, stirring up the kind of fever that has caused more work to be set aside and more school-days to be ditched than can be easily enumerated.

The thaw prevailed until the multiple hills of snow disappeared to reveal greenish-brown grass aspiring to be just plain green. Also exposed was a scattering of a few months worth of dog poop that had been hidden by patchwork shades of white.

I took a careful walk around the foul minefield, surveying the dimensions of the unpleasant activity ahead. It was a mishmash that had the very real potential of squishy detonations at almost every step.

The clean-up chore beckoned, so fully equipped—plastic bags and a trusty pooper scooper—I approached the task with all the enthusiasm of a forced march to a death camp. On a sunshiny afternoon, while nursing a cruddy sore throat and sifting through a truckload of bad memories, I had at it.

All the while Gus stood off at a discreet distance and watched, as though none of it had anything to do with her. I razed and ragged on her once or twice, but she simply tilted her head in a shrug that said she was bored.

I told her she was lucky I loved her. Gus responded to that by actively ignoring me—she sidled away and plopped herself down angled in the opposite direction. It was then that an old idea crept into my head, and I let it stretch out for a spell.

A hiss of breath escaped as a tight smile puckered my mouth. I paused and tilted my eyes upward to be wowed by the stunning color of the sky.

  Though your sins are like
  scarlet, they shall be as
  white as snow; though they
  are red as crimson, they 
  shall be like wool.

Have you learned spiritual truths from the mundane aspects of a friendship with a pet?

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Love & Grace

There I was, mucking around scooping stinking logs of dog poop, and not for the first or likely last time, the whole process crystallized in my mind as a perfect metaphor for God’s relationship with me—I am fortunate that he loves me. God showed his tremendous love for me by sending Christ to die on my behalf while I was still an unrepentant sinner.

Even more than that, standing there with a saggy bag of dog poop, while Gus busily gave me the cold shoulder, it occurred to me that in those times I engage in actively ignoring God, he remains on the job. His outreach and compassionate kindness to me is not conditioned on me being attentive.

I make mistakes and messes—I stumble, fall, and sin. At this stage of life hopefully those instances are mostly rare and unintentional, coming as a result of complacency, foolishness, or gross stupidity.

However, when honesty is stripped naked there’s an inescapable certainty: In kneejerk reactions or when carnality gets off its tether, I’m still capable of taking steaming dumps to mark my territory, just the same as every other sinner saved by grace.

Yet in all my uncaring disregard or dysfunctional disobedience, the One who fashioned the universe out of nothingness, continually provides blessed expressions of his everlasting love for me. The grace of God flows from a bottomless cavern to be endlessly available to everyone.

The snow that falls from leaden-hued clouds transforms the countryside into picturesque purity, but concealed beneath its cover there’s dirty poop, ugliness, and garbage. In a radically different way, the snow of God’s love and grace is an all-encompassing scouring detergent that can never melt or evaporate.

Instead of merely covering the stench of my sin, the snow of God’s love and grace washes me whiter than white—not just once, but rather, every instant I am in desperate need, I can be immersed in the cleansing power of supernatural love.

Those are lessons that I want to be reminded of again and again—those are lessons for everyone to learn or relearn on a regular basis.

May it be so in each of our lives.

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Comments 36 comments

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Hi Ken, i'm not religious myself, but i live what would be considered a very christian life. We have five dogs, all small, but thankfully no snow, something i happily left behind when i emigrated from England. We do go skiing here sometimes, something i didn't expect to be able to do prior to arriving in Australia. You do get used to the cold of course, but i prefer getting used to the heat. That snow is special to you though, which is the main thing. Cheers.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

attemptedhumour - Thank you for stopping in & sharing thoughtful comments.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Dear Ken,

I love picturing you and your wife by the window trying to catch snowflakes. I too love the snow. While others complain about the inconvenience and the mess I secretly pray that it will fall like crazy and turn the world pure and peaceful. I am not an expert on poop, but my analogy would be what happens after the snow when in a while it turns sooty and black. Life is a little bit of both. Voted up and awesome!

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

breakfastpop - Thank you. I like than analogy--"sooty and black. Life is a little of both." Indeed it is.

sunflowerbucky profile image

sunflowerbucky 6 years ago from Small Town, USA

This was exquisite!

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, sunflowerbucky.

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Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

I started my morning with this, and later in the day, I'm thanking God that I did so. Beautiful, inspiring, and so, so true. Thanks, Ken. This hub was worth every bit of effort you put into it, and maybe twice that! I also happened to be standing outside in freshly falling snow while I read it on my smartphone. How weird is that?

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Motown2Chitown - You're welcome. Thank you for you kind words of affirmation. Blessings.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Ken I was just the other day thinking of spring and the huge job I have ahead of me once the snow melts as I have 2 Newfoundland dogs. Every spring I put on rubber boots and haul a huge garbage can around picking up what they have done all winter long. But after reading your hub it does not seem like it will be that bad of a chore this year. Beautiful Hub.

Lori Cotten profile image

Lori Cotten 6 years ago

This was such an enlightening and uplifting story. Thank you for putting a smile on my face this wonderful cold and frozen morning. I look forward to reading more of your work.:)

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Just Ask Susan - Thank you. Two Newfoundlands. Oh, my. Gorgeous animals. Be blessed & encouraged.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Lori Cotten - You're welcome for the smile. Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Blessings.

Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 6 years ago from Southern Minnesota

even something to learn from snow and poop. surprisingly identifiable metaphor.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Tamarajo - Thanks for stopping in & sharing.

oldyeller3 6 years ago

Ken, amazing analogy, only you. Well, it is a good thought process for when I'm cleaning up outside, been there twice in the last couple of weeks, not as bad as anticipated. Since those of us with dog's have this never ending task these thoughts are a new way of keeping it all in perspective. Gus has a great winter coat, soon that to will be all over the place, have fun. Give her a pat for me.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, oldyeller3 a.k.a Daniele. She's curled up behind me just now, so giving her a pat is an easy deal. Take care.

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Ken, I failed to get the message, I've never been short of too much to say and I was sure I had left one of my long winded replies here. I've read it 3 times this morning and I'm afraid my train jumped the tracks, I'm clueless on the whole article, add me to your payerlist, much peace and love dusty

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Perhaps your "friend" mirrors who you are...

Flag up!

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Sorry, Dusty. Not sure what to say to help or explain it better. Peace, blessings & much encouragement to you.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, dallas93444.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

Well, Ken...you ol' self-described kook, you really came around the barn with this one! LOL! But, in the end, no one could mistake the heartfelt sincerity that you expressed and gave thanks for...you thankful old kook! Say hi! to Gus for me! WB

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Still don't get the relation twixt trying to catch snow through a window screen, then picking up dog crap and being whiter than snow. I've honestly with an open mind tried to get correlation between the whole thing. I seem to be failing some where. I don't mean to be an ass, I see that some get it and I'm just missing the whole thing. I guess one can't win them all. Peace and Blessings, 50

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Wayne. Who can figure about some ideas that get stuck inside your head? Glad you stopped in & enjoyed my meanderings. Blessings.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dusty - Thanks for coming back & giving it another look. Sorry we aren't connecting on this one. Blessings.

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Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Beautiful reminder! Enjoyed reading so much. :)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Sunnie Day. Glad you stopped in & enjoyed the visit. Blessings.

d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

This was one of the best articles i have ever read here on hubpages. Extremely well written, filled with emotion, love and joy. I love your pictures of Gus and your portrayal of God without the usual mundane preachings of morality. I look forward to reading more of your work. Good job.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

d.william - Thank you for your kind & generous comments. Much appreciated.

freecampingaussie profile image

freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

I really enjoyed this hub, we are hoping to spend some time where it is snowing one day.

Its really nice to have those fun special moments to remember!

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

freecampingaussie - Glad you enjoyed it. Blessings.

gclitty profile image

gclitty 5 years ago

Just stopped in to say hello, but the hub kept me fixated until the end. Great pictures.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

gclitty - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. I'm glad you enjoyed the visit.

ChristineVianello profile image

ChristineVianello 5 years ago from Philadelphia

I enjoyed reading this one. Cute dogs!

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Christine - Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

mslizzee profile image

mslizzee 5 years ago from Buncombe County, NC

I think this is a marvelously written, heartfelt piece. Thank you. I was a pleasure to read.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

mslizzee - You're welcome. Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Much encouragement to you.

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