COVID and the Cone
by George Garrison
Posted: May 7, 2020
Time out for a laugh…
George Garrison is senior pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois. He began writing "Thursday Thoughts" during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so much of the church's activities had to go virtual.
(This week we temporarily interrupt our usual serious tone of Thursday Thoughts to share something on the more light-hearted side. Perhaps we could all use a good laugh at this point.)
A few days ago our beloved dog Baxter came home from the vet donning the bane of every dog’s existence- “the Cone of Shame.” To prevent him from licking (and inhibit the healing) a sore on his back leg, a cone had been fitted over his head. I hate to admit it, but the plastic funnel on his head makes him look like a four-legged walking trash can.
I’m not sure if it’s been dubbed “the Cone of Shame” because of the emotional effect on the dog or the owner, but I am willing to own up to the latter. Mark Twain once said that “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.” But I’m pretty sure ol’ Samuel Clemens was never a not-so-proud owner of a coned canine either. Maybe Baxter isn’t blushing, but it sure seems like he has that look in his eye of “if we’re going for a walk this morning, it better be when none of the other dogs are out!”
When we first brought him home from being “conified” he simply sat by the front door for about a half hour. He just sat there motionless, staring at us as if to say, “Okay, enough of this fun little costume headgear thing, I’m ready to go back and have this stupid thing taken off” (We purposefully had the vets attach the cone so that Baxter would be mad at them instead of us. Stay tuned for an update regarding the effectiveness of that strategy!)
Of course part of the frustration that every dog owner feels in enduring the COS (thirteen long days for us; not sure what that is in dog years) is that we cannot communicate with Baxter so that he understands that the COS is for his own good, no matter how frustrating it is for him. While walking him the other evening, I was watching him and thinking, “I wonder how it feels to not know the reason why you are forced to endure something, to be frustrated by the drastic restrictions that an ailment presents, and then on top of it to not know how long the whole ordeal will last.” But then I caught myself; “Hey, I know exactly what all that feels like. We all do!”
Although I will refrain from trying to make any profound parallels from that empathetic aha moment, I found some solace in the fact that there was a four-legged being in our household that could share in our family’s human predicament, and vice versa. There is something unnatural on both a human and animal level that the entire Garrison household is experiencing right now. But within that unnatural environment is a sense of camaraderie in knowing we are all going through something challenging now that will result in our good. For Baxter it’s a simple matter of fact; his foot will heal as long as the COS is in place so the medicine can take effect. For us it’s a not-so-simple matter of faith, believing God works for our good in all situations ()*, which means in every varying degree of comfort.
I’m confident that in a couple of days Baxter and our whole family will become more comfortable and accepting of his predicament, just as we have ours. Soon he’ll be running around and the jokes will be flying, I can already hear them: “Hey Baxter, how bout a really easy game of funnel toss! Come here boy, I need to throw my wrapper away!” Not to mention the gamut of bad puns involving the words cone or funnel.
But soon, the thirteen day cone-athon will come to an end. Baxter will come home funnel-free, and his life will be back to normal. His ordeal will be over; with no real lessons learned and no thought given as to why those in charge of watching over him would allow him to experience such a hardship in the first place. May the same not be said of us when our ordeal is finally over. If it is, it is only to our shame..
Praying God will continue to give all of you periods of laughter in glimpses of hope,
© 2020 George A. Garrison
* Bible passages are linked to BibleGateway.com, where you can change translations, listen to an audio version, view other passages, and find additional resources.
George Garrison is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois.• E-mail the author (ten.nairetybserpleunammi@egroeg*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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