October 12, 2016
"Blessed are the faithful, for they shall be called dogs."
—Rev. Gary Kowalski
He was, I am told, just a dog.
But who was it that, fresh from the litter, climbed onto my chest, licked my face, and rubbed his pink baby nose against my cheek? Who chewed the edges of my only antique desk? Who hiked to the top of Multnomah Falls, snug and safe in my backpack? Who tore through the house like mad before wriggling under the covers to snore himself to sleep?
He was just a dog, they say. When I dragged home after a day when everything went wrong, who leapt for joy because I was all right? When my spouse’s heart was blocked enough to warrant surgery, who slept pressed firm against me, keeping my heart open in time of need? Who kept a soggy chew toy handy in case I needed reminding that the universe is sustained by play? Who taught me to notice the little things of life? Who loved me unconditionally, and believed that a walk around the block—with me—was the highlight of his day?
Jesse was a dog—a Boston Terrier, to be precise. For ten years, he was “just” a central part of my life. I loved him; there are no other words. When it came time, I had to let his body go. But a Jesse-shaped spirit lives on in my heart.
God of all diversity, I thank you for the life of this beloved teacher, from whom I learned that love comes without limits. May I carry this learning in my heart, and may I remain wide open to the possibilities of connection and your most unexpected gifts of grace.