From the Archives of Clergy Clatter

August 2018

As most of you know, I have two dogs. Frisky is a very old Rat Terrier from the pound. He’s deaf and almost blind. Most of his life consists of moving from his bed in my den to his bed in my bedroom, with an occasional trip outside if I carry him down the stairs.

Max (Maxwell) is another matter. I sort of inherited Max (it’s a long story). Max is a Westie (West Highlands Terrier). He’s the cute one. Look at a Caesar’s dog food package, and you’ll see Max. I always assumed Westies were sort of fru fru sissy dogs. Oh, was I wrong. They are smart, stubborn, fierce hunters. Max will wade into the marsh mud behind my house up to his chin to chase a raccoon. He spends a significant portion of his life in the sink or bath tub being de-mudded.

Foolishly, Max is allowed on all of the furniture in my house – he’s just sooo cute. But there is one place he is not allowed – my bed pillows. Cute or not, those pillows are mine, and they are off limits, and he knows it. He also sees those pillows as his “forbidden fruit.” As soon as he thinks I’m gone, he heads straight to them. Every once in a while, I have to return to the bedroom for something I forgot. Since I leave my radio on for the dogs, Max does not hear me coming back. And of course, he’s quickly taken to the pillows. I get a special pleasure out of surprising him with a loud, “What are you doing on those pillows?” He never can quite get his legs working fast enough to get away from my feigned wrath. He knows he’s been bad, but it was worth it to spend just a few minutes on the forbidden pillows.

I find it fascinating that it’s not just humans who are attracted to the forbidden. The Bible is full of stories of people unable to resist the temptation of the one thing they are supposed to avoid. The big one, of course, is Adam and Eve. But there are also stories like the great King David being unable to control his lust for Uriah’s wife. And there’s story after story of characters yielding to temptation to “touch the forbidden.” All of us grew up with nursery rhymes and stories of failure to avoid the forbidden. It’s part of human nature that we crave that which we are not supposed to have. 

When I scold Max, I’m really not as furious as I try to sound. He’s really a good little dog – except for my bed pillows. Maybe God sees us with the same delight, and maybe God’s wrath is much gentler than we perceive it to be.



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A compilation of The Rev. Richard O. Bridgford’s most memorable articles from his nearly 25 years at Church of the Epiphany. Enjoy history, humor, nature, travel, and wacky experiences with Fr. Bridgford, his two-legged and four-legged friends! Recall:

  • the New Year’s resolutions he couldn’t keep
  • the year Santa’s elf delivered Baby Jesus to the creche
  • the volcano that threatened his vacation
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