Strong emotions about a dog called Chanel and God.
I was with a dear friend when she decided it was time to put her dog down. She had had Chanel for 15 years, which is a long life, even for a 10-pound Morkie.
Chanel was the prettiest dog that I ever knew and she had a wonderful personality. I had seen, year after year, how much joy and comfort that Chanel had brought to my friend who had physical challenges herself.
With my friend I tenderly carried Chanel’s small frame to the vet. She was almost blind and her rear legs didn’t work very well – she would fall over and have trouble getting upright.
We told the vet we wanted to hold Chanel to the end. My friend held Chanel in her lap and stroked her back. She looked up at us with those big brown eyes, as we tried to stop our tears.
They put a catheter on her front leg and brought in a plate of cookies. Chanel snarfed those down speedily. Alone, we said our goodbyes through tears.
The vet came back in and injected a valium – like substance that knocked Chanel out before the lethal shot. The two injections together took only a minute.
We spent five minutes stroking her fur and trying to accept that she had gone to doggie heaven. The vet returned and carried her out on the blanket she was lying on.
My friend and I held onto each other as we exited the building. In the car we cried and cried.
On the way home, we realized, thankfully, how very professional the vet people had been.
But that’s not the end of the story…
I had read that the way we love our dogs is similar to the way God loves us. The way we care for our puppies is the way God cares for us. If we bark too much, or pee on the floor, God may not be pleased but he still loves us. His grace covers our moral imperfections and wrong-doing.
My friend grieved for Chanel with many tears for many days. Then came a time, just a week after Chanel’s death when my friend said she didn’t feel close to God. Worse than that, due to trying circumstances, she felt like her family didn’t care for her, and that God no longer cared for her.
One evening the situation became tense. There were misunderstandings and strong words were exchanged. My friend cried and went to bed feeling lost and rejected, she said.
Not long afterward, she suddenly sat up, got out of bed, and said through tears that God had spoken to her. She was animated and clearly something big had happened.
My friend explained that she was lying in bed praying because she felt lost and that nobody cared for her. Then she heard a voice say clearly, “But I care for you.”
I asked whether it was a real voice, and she said she thought it was. She also said she thought it was Jesus speaking.
Over the years, I have encountered similar spiritual experiences – some in my own life and some in others. No question, for my friend this was a real spiritual experience. She was feeling lost and alone, and God came to her.
Soon after, I remembered how much she cared for Chanel, and then it made sense to me.
The Gray Nomad ….. The loss of a beloved pet is a good time to lift our eyes to God.
So for now you are in grief; but I will see you again, and [then] your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away from you your [great] joy.
[Gospel of John, chapter 16].