The luck of the English
Many attempts have been made to describe the English. They have been described as “A nation of shopkeepers.” They have been described as “The last ward of the European madhouse.”
But the most insightful may come from a German interrogator in the BBC comedy series Blackadder, who at one point exclaims:
How lucky you English are to find the toilet so amusing! For us it is a mundane and functional item. For you? The basis of an entire culture!
I’ve so far managed to steer this blog clear of the topic of poo. But the time has come to grasp the nettle, and broach another taboo. For, like the English, toddlers have a morbid fascination with the toilet. If you are of a nervous disposition, read on with care. And possibly breathe into a paper bag.
We have a slightly circuitous route to get there. We start with bedtime…
My routine for putting Dominic and Elías to bed in the evening is predictable in every way. First I will read them a story. Then I will ask whether they have had a nice day, and whether there is anything they want to thank God for. We will say a prayer (thanking God for mummy, the garden, Peppa Pig, Bakugans, or any of his other creations that have occurred to them) and I will bid them good night.
“No!” they will cry. “A lullaby, a lullaby!” And I will relent, and sing. Now, here I deviate from tradition. I disapprove leaving babies on treetops. It’s downright bad parenting. Instead I will sing “How I hate the night” (by Marvin the paranoid android). Or perhaps “Into the west” (from Lord of the Rings)
And then, amid ongoing protest, I will finally take my leave.
But things can never be that simple. One evening recently, I was performing this time honoured ritual, and asked “Is there anything you want to thank God for?” They paused a few moments before Dominic suggested “Poo!”. Elías agreed, and soon they were chanting “Poo! Poo! Poo! Poo!” What was I to do? We, very seriously, thanked God for poo.
And then I turned out the light, and began to do considerable disservice to the haunting strains of Into the West.
Sleep now, and dream of the ones who came before.
They are calling from across a distant shore.
Why do you weep?
“‘Why do you wee?’?” demanded Dominic. I patiently put him right, but it was too late, and after two more minutes of Dominic hysterically crooning “Why do you wee?” I shook my head, gave up, and left them to it. As I walked out I thought to myself “Think what they’re missing out on by being so obsessed with wee and poo!”
But here’s the thing. I wonder how many times my heavenly father looks at me and says “Think what he’s missing out on by being so obsessed by poo!” Obviously I’m not thinking about the contents of the toilet – I’ve passed that stage. I’m thinking metaphorically. I’m thinking of my obsession with the horrible smelly things of life.
You see, sometimes I can be obsessed with my differences with my brothers and sisters, rather than remembering what unites us. I’m focussing on the horrible, and on the smelly. I’m sidelining the lovely and the excellent. I’m missing the haunting strains of God singing through them, as I shout “Why do you wee?”. I’m obsessed with poo.
Similarly, every time I avidly soak up the stories in the news filled with fear and hate rather than looking for the loving hand of God in it all, that’s my obsession with poo.
When I’m prepared to be nasty to people to prove I’m right rather than focussing on being loving, that’s my obsession with poo.
And God, I suspect, shakes his head and sadly looks at everything I’m missing out on. And he points me at the words of St Paul:
Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable,
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…
Think about such things.
So perhaps the challenge to me is this: when I’m looking at the negative, focussing on fear or anger, to figuratively put the lid down, step back from the toilet and raise my eyes to focus on a much bigger God.
© Photo Heidi Blanton
© Text 2013 Paul Brownnutt
Being God’s Toddler by Paul Brownnutt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Today’s post is brought to you by Philippians 4:8