Simple Goodness by Bro Duncan PBGV

From my vantage point in Beyond, I often wonder why Human Beans just don’t get it. They rush around trying to fix what can’t be fixed and become very complicated about things that are really very simple. Take goodness, for example. Dogs understand goodness perfectly. Everyone is our very best friend and to be treated as such. True, we may have a special soft spot for the most hopeless among them, the ones who are always getting things wrong, but we are very delicate in the way we express it. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat beside BigSis and gazed at her with my big brown eyes to show sympathy and understanding or trotted along in front of LittleSis, my tail gently waving to reassure her that everything was going to be all right! Even the Ginger Fiend is learning that life isn’t all treats and tummy rubs. We have to be there for Them. Which brings me to my point.

I was asking St Aelred the other day whether there wasn’t a problem with Human Beans misunderstanding his teaching on friendship and stuff. He looked at me very shrewdly and, being a good teacher, asked me what I thought. Well, simples! Human Beans do get him wrong very often. Probably it takes a dog to get to the heart of the matter. Love of others should lead to love of God or it is not real love. My dearest wish is for everyone I knew and loved on earth to be with me in Beyond where we can rejoice with God for ever and ever. That is real love, I have no doubt; and it is very patient, humble and persevering. I know I have a big task ahead of me, but I put my paws together regularly and never lose hope.

Very few now remember much about St Aelred except his love of God and his love of his brethren, and that’s as it should be. Human Beans can learn from that sort of forgetting. It doesn’t matter how handsome or successful we are, how learned or ‘inspiring’, simple goodness — loving others — is what counts. But it must be genuine love of others, not covert manipulation or self-seeking (a bit like some of the Young Sprog’s earlier attempts to win a supernumerary Dentastix. ‘Nuff sed.). I think that’s why we dogs don’t have very long lives by human standards. We learn very quickly to love deeply, constantly and forgivingly. We’re good at simple goodness — thank goodness!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Simple Goodness

In previous years I have written about St Dominic in terms of truth and beauty, but this morning, with Iraqi Christians and Yazidis fleeing before their persecutors and the situation of Christians in Syria and other parts of the Near and Middle East scarcely better, I am attracted to that third part of the Platonic trinity: goodness.

Goodness doesn’t get very much attention these days, probably because we have become lazy in our thinking. We tend to see goodness as something other than virtue, i.e. not a moral quality as such but something innate over which we have little control. We are ‘good’ in the same way that we are blue-eyed or brown-haired. It may not be in our genes, but it is somehow part of us. I’m not quite convinced of that.

God is the supreme good, and I trust St Dominic might forgive this non-Dominican for thinking that the love of truth he inculcated in his sons and daughters was part of the quest for this supreme good. But how is goodness linked to this supreme good, God? In the Germanic languages the connection with God is fairly obvious; so can we say that goodness is a reflection of God, a God-given quality, in fact? If so, it is something we are free either to accept or reject, and so far is it from being innate, we must work at it as we must work at other qualities.

I think part of the solution to the problem I have posed myself can be found in the title of this blog post. I spoke of ‘simple goodness’. The Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict is largely about purity of heart — the simplification of being that results in closeness to God. To be close to God is to be like him — to be good, as he is good. St Dominic wanted everyone to be close to God and as like him as possible. It is a challenge we must take up in our own lives.

I am not sure how that can help our Iraqi brothers and sisters, but I am certain that it can.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail