Casting a Long Shadow.

His name is Winston.

Well, to be perfectly precise, Sir Winston The Great! He’s our ten-year-old, West Highland Terrier. He’s quite the character. Seventeen pounds of pooch with a ton of passion. He’s the embodiment of the phrase, little body, big heart. We were on a walk the other day, and we stopped for a moment to catch our breath. It was quite warm, and the pavement radiated heat like a furnace. I saw and captured a photo I’m including with this post. It made me think of all the years gone by with this big-hearted dog.

Taking a short break on a recent walk, our dog, Winston, casts a long shadow with the setting sun.

Winston is the second of our two Westies. The older, wiser, more cautious Reilly, aka The Wonderful Mister O’Reilly (it has nothing to do with the political pundit!), is deliberate and calculated. He’s never run into a wall chasing a ball. But he has slid off the edge of the couch while sluggardly sleeping on his back. But Winston, well, let’s put it this way, if Winston were our first dog, we wouldn’t have two!

Fuzz Butt, Under Foot, Mr. Pee-body, Little Buddy...

Demon Dog, Sir Pees-A-Lot, Fuzz Butt, Under Foot, Mr. Pee-body, Little Buddy, Spazz Dog, The Creeping Puppy, Winstonian, Wiggle Butt, and Snuggles are all nicknames we have for Sir Winston. Reilly has a few, but not nearly as many because Winston has a huge heart and a loud character. And as I looked at him and his shadow during our rest time, recalling the imprint he’s making in our lives, I couldn’t help but translate it into humanity.

In the Bible, the writer Paul tells his young mentor, Timothy a very crucial element of a successful life. Timothy is rather young, and in First Century Jewish culture, that didn’t carry a lot of clout. But Paul tells Timothy this:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. - 1 Timothy 4:12

Now, I can’t say Winston has set an example for us in a positive light. In fact, I’m a bit fearful, if we were to get a third dog (I’m now hinting at my wife) that Winston would be its mentor. Lord, help us all! But what about us? Can we say we set a positive example for those around us? Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is holistic - in life, in love, in faith and in purity. That’s a pretty high calling. However, it seems Paul has confidence in Timothy to do just those things. In his youthfulness, he’s to use it not as an excuse for childishness or immature behavior, but as leverage; a young man acting so godly would leave a lasting impression on the elders.

Have I set an example for others in the way I live, love and express my faith?

And I thought about Winston, his shadow, and my life. What kind of shadow do I cast? Is it foreboding and ominous? When people hear my name do they cringe? I'm sure some do - they did with Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rosa Parks and even Jesus ; there will always be critics. But what about in the other sense? Have I set an example for others in the way I live, love and express my faith? How about you? It’s good to take stock of our lives regularly, checking the contents and darkness of our shadows. It’s never too late to make the necessary adjustments, leaving a positive imprint.

We need to strive to be the kind of people who set the example, especially when people don’t expect us to, like Timothy.

Casting a long shadow can be a good thing, as long as we’re aware of the kind of shadow we cast! Remember:

Success is Intentional!