My Dog Doesn’t Know It’s New Year’s Day

Sometimes I think taking the time to walk my dog Hachi is beneficial to my spiritual health.

Hachi woke me up this morning around 5am, as he usually does, to ask me to take him out for a walk. But today is New Year’s Day 2018, the day many people look forward to after an almost universally hated and despised 2017. People partied the night before, so it was (yes, noticeably) quieter than most mornings at 5am.

But my dog doesn’t know and he doesn’t care. So I tried to lecture Hachi, “Don’t you know it’s New Year’s Day? Of course you don’t! For that matter, you don’t care if today might be Christmas, or Independence Day, or my birthday, or…” And then, I realized I picked those dates because those are days that people usually come together to celebrate or to party. But then I, as a human, don’t even have the knowledge of certain days that could have more importance than just fun and games.

For example, I may not be aware if today will be the day I’ll have the opportunity to say some encouraging words to someone that might change his/her life (or vice versa). I may not know if today I will start doing something that I will look back with significance years from now. I would not know if today is the day I die.

My dog seems ignorant to me, but I’m equally ignorant about telling days and times when compared to God’s infinite knowledge about the world and about me. And not only am I ignorant about my destiny, I’m also ignorant about how to run my own life.

Jeremiah 8:6–7 compares humans to animals, and it interestingly gives even more credit to animals than to humans:

I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle. Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.

Perhaps there is an anti-New-Year’s-resolution right there. Today, many people are asking “What should I do?” But if we accept our ignorance about the future, if we accept our limitations, if we accept our “created-ness” under our Creator and Lord, perhaps the question we should ask more often is “What have I done?” It’s a more humbling question to ask, and it is the question that helps us reflect and appreciate our limitations and our capacity for evil, while yielding to a God of unlimited power and love and grace.