In the hot depths of a summer afternoon, four cows masticated grass across the road from a parsonage. The pastor joyfully grabbed a camera and set out to take a picture for the background of Sunday’s digital worship service. The sun blazed and lit the pastoral scene.
Quiet murmurings sounds accompanied the cleric as he carefully framed his shot and checked the camera settings. Two cows looked meaningfully at the minister, conferred among themselves with quiet moos, and then arranged themselves for the picture with their compatriots. As a line of sweat dripped from the holy brow, the camera shutter snapped both open and closed: the minister pondered the futility of his pursuit.
Behold the bovine! A beast that is quite moving and very solemn…
This week I am attending the second last session of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. One of the things I have found at the Academy is a community of souls who are diverse and beautiful. There are also several folks who love awful jokes. So, while I did pre-write these posts, I thought I would share a joke that I have been working on for other folks who love bad jokes. It is a twist on a joke out of a book my kids gave me.
Two friends lived their entire lives next door to each other. Their families spent time together, their kids played together, and they were really great neighbors. Every year they would go hunting for water fowl and the friends would sit together for hours.
Over time one of the friends began to be bothered. It seemed like everything in life was grand, but his friend always found a way to look at the downside of things. If there was a rainbow, he’d complain about the rain. If there was a bumper crop of zucchini, he’d complain about eating the same thing every night. If he went hunting and did not reach his limit, he would complain about bad luck despite having birds to clean and feed his family. This man loved his friend, but it was increasingly difficult to find a sense of humor about his friend’s tendency to complain.
He became obsessed with pointing out the little blessings, but his friend seemed oblivious. After a few years of this, his long patient and helpful hunting dog passed away. Sure enough, his neighbor started complaining about how tough it was to train a new dog.
Nevertheless, the optimistic friend started training a little pup. Being a religious man with a sense of humor, he named his dog Jesus. “Jesus was always there for him.” “Jesus just wanted a closer walk with him.” You know the kind of jokes…
He loved the pup and started his training. He was shocked to find that when he began to train the dog to retrieve fowl the dog would walk on water to the bird to retrieve it. It was a miracle! He was shocked, awed, and finally thrilled that he at last had a chance to show his friend that not everything was bad in this life. There were miracles all around if we stop focusing on the terrible stuff all the time.
So, one day the two men go hunting. The man doesn’t tell a soul about his dog’s gift. Soon enough, the bird dog was sent to go get a downed fowl. The dog got out of the boat, walked over the pond, picked up the bird, and came back.
The friend was quiet and thoughtful for a moment. He slowly turned to the proud dog owner and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. First you lost your trusty hunting dog and now this. You just have the worst luck.”
The dog owner was flabbergasted. He asked how his friend could possibly look at this is something less than wonderful. The friend looked him in the eye, squeezed his shoulder, and said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I don’t think your dog can swim.”
You are in spotlights… How did you not see shadow??? You lying rodent…
The Distracted Pastor, 2019
This senryu was written while waiting for a chance to grab lunch. Hunger has an effect on my sense of humor. It was written in response to Frank Tasson’s Haikai Challenge. The challenge responded to being cold and was presented on the day when the famous shadow forecasting of a particularly coddled groundhog on February 2nd said it would be warm soon. I obviously went with the senryu form, which is obviously not to be taken as a personal insult to the people of Punxsutawney.
My family has had two cats over the past few years. We have lived on church property and we need to deal with church mice. One of the cats had extra toes. My wife says she should keep her name. She called the cat Debbie. I called it Thumbs. Thumbs was a great mouser for many years.
The second cat is a black cat named Pepper. I’m allergic to cats. I didn’t need to rename this cat. Pepper makes me sneeze when it gets in my nose. Pepper make me sneeze when she rubs against my face. The name fits. Pepper is not the greatest of mousers.
Thumbs was very relaxed. Pepper seems a bit uptight. The two are almost completely different cats in terms of personality. I personally think it is because Pepper can’t operate the catapult. We have to get rid of those church mice somehow…