Cute At Any Age

December 6, 2012

1 Timothy 5:1-2

"Don't be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

Do you remember the children's game Operation? You take tiny tweezers and remove body parts from a patient without touching the body and without causing that dreadful buzzing sound.  It's all about manual dexterity.

In a study at the University of Virginia, subjects were asked to look at pictures of various animals before playing Operation to see if this improved their dexterity. (Apparently the scientific world needed this information.)

The magazine write-up explained that the subjects watched a slideshow of "slightly cute" animals, defined as dogs and cats, versus "highly cute" animals, defined as puppies and kittens. And the results? People who had seen the baby animals improved their dexterity skills threefold.

Scientists think this comes from increased "carefulness," an adaptation that helps us care for the small and vulnerable. After seeing photos of tiny critters, the erstwhile "surgeons" played the game of operation more carefully. It's as if we were created by God to be careful with little ones. I've never understood people who think science is a threat to religion. Discoveries like this one strengthen my faith in our divine creator.

But as for the writer's word choice, I found that less inspiring. In the piece about the experiment, it was just assumed that the fully-grown animals were less cute than the "highly cute" babies. And I object.

While I have no trouble believing that God constructed us to be more careful with little ones, I think God made us able to love creatures of all ages and to delight in every stage of life.  I think of Lucky and Bruno, my two old dogs who may be long in the tooth, but are even cuter today than they were as pups. And just to prove it scientifically, I do have a picture.

Prayer

Since we are all created in your image, timeless God, allow me to see the beauty in every stage of life, and to care for all your creatures, adorable at any age. Amen.

About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the co-author of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers and author of the upcoming When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough.

Looking for a way to say "thanks" to someone at church? Click here to preview and order How Can We Thank You?, a new collection of reflections from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.

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