Recently Teckla and I were visiting our friends Daniel and Carroll in Olathe. As we were sitting and talking in their living room, one of their dogs (Bella) jumped up on Daniel’s lap and pressed herself hard against his face. Daniel said Bella does this maybe twice a day.
This made me think of our dog at home. When Mira (a Doberman pinscher) is especially glad to see me, she pushes her nose hard between my knees as I scratch behind her ears. She nuzzles long and hard, wagging her stub of a tail the whole time.
I love this because she seems to be immersing herself in my presence—delighting in me and for the moment wanting nothing more. At other times she will press in: right before feeding times, when she needs to be let out—or if she notices we are eating something. She whines and thumps us with her head. In short, she begs and demands.
It may be a sign of my spiritual poverty, but I find Mira’s and Bella’s nuzzling instructive. In fact, it brings to mind some passages from the mystical 14th century classic The Cloud of Unknowing that urge believers to seek a direct experience of God: “What are you looking for, what do you want? To all of them you must reply, “God alone I seek and desire, only him.” (Ch. 7)
Like Mira I too thump God with all my supplications and requests—sometimes I beg and whine. Honestly, most of these prayers are not about me, but rather those I love. Nonetheless, as I contemplate how I delight in Mira’s nuzzling, I realize how much God must delight in us pressing in and delighting ourselves in his presence—his “thereness”—maybe even the fragrance of Christ.
I’m not sure God scratches us behind the ears as we nuzzle Him, but his delight in us is real.