I live with a five-and-a-half month old goldendoodle. A goldendoodle is a mix of a Golden Retriever and a standard poodle. My puppy has blonde curly hair and an insatiable curiosity about the world. She wants to know what's under the bed, what's in the closet, what's on the counter. She loves to sit on the back porch and watch the squirrels run around the backyard.
Her name is Zoey, which is the Greek word for 'life.' My previous dog, a Golden Retriever, was named Meli, which is the Greek word for 'honey.' And she was aptly named. She was the sweetest dog I've ever met, gentle and kind and obedient. Easy to train. Zoey, on the other hand, is living into her name as well: she is the most lively, energetic, bouncy puppy I've ever had. And I chose her because of the five puppies left to choose from in the litter, she was the calmest. (This makes me wonder what those other families ended up with...)
When we go for walks, Zoey tackles everything: blowing leaves, snowflakes, litter. She pounces on the offending item like a cougar, and then shakes it violently before she happily trots off with the item lying droopily out of the corners of her mouth. When we meet people, she can contain herself for a few brief seconds in the 'sit' position before she absolutely must jump on them to show how glad she is to make their acquaintance. When she's in the house, she will pick up a sock and run around and around with such apparent joy that it's hard for me to gather the will to make her stop.
Zoey is full of life. She is so full of life that sometimes I call her "Zoey Pleroma." Pleroma is a version of Greek word for 'abundance.' It's what Jesus says he came for: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
When I watch Zoey tackling the world, full of joy and zest, I think about the life I'm leading. I think about my life with God. I think about how often I go through the motions without really engaging, how rarely I am practicing life abundant. I think about how Jesus' vision for us was not a couch potato life, not a let-sleeping-dogs-lie kind of life, but a goldendoodle puppy kind of life, a tackle-that-leaf kind of life.
I think about this when my church leaders invite me to give sacrificially, or when I am working hard to maintain my own comfort rather than maximizing my joy. I think about this when I weigh what opportunities to say yes to, and which ones to decline. What will allow me to live in a Zoey Pleroma way? What will allow me to live abundantly?
Zoey is a challenge sometimes, and I'm working hard to train her, but she has also brought so much life. And some life lessons too. Live abundantly.