All my life I've pondered the biblical reference to having faith "even as much as a mustard seed." As a child, I stole a necklace from my mother that contained a mustard seed in its pendant. I took the pendant apart (I'm not saying I was a good child, necessarily!) and examined that mustard seed from all angles, but I couldn't see what was so special about it.
Just this past summer, the thought occurred to me that a mustard seed is simply itself. It doesn't try to grow into a cabbage, or a lemon tree, it just grows mustard, and doesn't waste any effort wishing it was something else, or that the plant next to it was different, or anything. It's just mustard, and it's good with that.
On January 20, my basset hound, Baxter, died of cancer. We called him Noodle as a nickname, because when we first got him he could bend over backwards like a piece of macaroni, and it was hysterical. We got Baxter as a companion to our old basset hound, Bentley (who we called Boo), who had outlived the longest lived of his litter mates by five years, and who was our best friend and companion for 13 years. Boo had slowed down quite a bit by then, and we thought a puppy might keep him interested and active.
Bentley died of old age four months after we got Bax. At the time, I almost couldn't bear to be around poor Baxter, who'd done nothing wrong, other than not being Boo.
Bax was a character. As soon as his voice changed, he immediately fell in love with it, and his favorite thing to do was bark. Ad nauseum. Sometimes he would walk out into the back yard, find everything quiet and nothing to chase or investigate, and he would just bark. At nothing. He loved it, us, not so much. "Noodle! Stop that effing barking!" was a not-uncommon phrase every summer.
I thought of that when he died, and of how completely Baxter he was. He wasn't Boo, he didn't wish he was a bird, he didn't try to grow into a rose bush. He was just Noodle. And maybe all of that barking was just a Noodle making a joyful noise unto the Lord. And God help me, through my tears, but I'm good with that.