A Dog and a Fool
When we returned from our long road trip back east, I made my rounds in the yard, checking progress of flowers and the advancement of weeds in our absence. In one segment of the newly re-arranged beds, a patch of fading and decaying dog vomit caught my eye. Weird from Journey to throw up here, I thought.
A few days later, I set about collecting a bouquet for a visiting friend. Three patches of dog vomit fungus in various stages dotted the mulch in the same beds. Ah, I remember this. It happened in our Kentucky flower patch. It’s disgusting. It looks exactly as its name dictates. It’s also fascinating, in a way that makes you keep peeking back at it one more time. How does it do that, how does it look like dog vomit?
I thought of my garden and the fungus tonight as the dog vomit verse from Proverbs resurfaced in my mind. A fool returns to his/her folly. Most of my life, my imagination of the fool placed him returning to an amber bottle full of enticing drink, or a gambler’s table stacked with money and poker chips, or some other of the infamous follies we easily recognize as folly—you know, the regular big ones.
Recent discoveries in my own soul reveal troublesome returns to folly that beg to be downplayed. They insist they aren’t folly but rather are expected and natural parts of life and therefore fixtures of my own interior landscape. Indeed, the logic follows, they make sense. These have been natural and patterned for some time, and thus the expectation and acceptance of their existence seems reasonable enough.
The vomit rises up on its own, in the flower bed, as it were, in the open where the beauty grows. I stare at it unwittingly, turning over and over in my mind—how did it get there? Why is it so gross and so fascinating at the same time?
Or, maybe I toss my cookies, feeling the retch and letting the toxicity hurl from my body, out of my being. And there I stand, right by my folly. Fear. That’s it for me. The main one, though it dresses itself up in other outfits, like pride (thinking too highly of oneself or too lowly of oneself is still thinking too often of oneself), anxiety, isolation, anger, panic, comparison, scarcity. Fear—swirling spirals, cascading down into each other. My face is so near it. I can smell it and watch it settle into itself in a pile where the beauty grows.
It is not attractive. The vomit, or the image of the fool returning to it.
Lord, have mercy. Give us eyes to see our folly for what it is. Let us not leave it too quickly in the first place; perhaps if we learn from what it tells us about ourselves, we would be less prone to return to it at all. Give us courage to lean into you while you teach us more whole and true ways to live.