Two months ago, this dear friend had had to put her beloved dog down. It had been a horrible, and devastatingly sad day. All of us neighbors grieved for her and with her. The dog had been my unmarried friend's companion and best friend. She mourned the loss of the best part of her life for the past twelve years.We all loved Lilly, the friendly black lab. And then my friend, two months later, told us she had seen a dog on the Petfinder site. Something about that dog touched her. The big black labradoodle was 6 years old. Black dogs have a tough time being adopted, and few families want an older dog. But my friend knew this was the dog she was meant to have. She drove to Charleston to pick him up, giving us neighbors the time to prepare our welcome.
I sat on the porch and saw her car was back. Dooley was home! I sat on my porch sipping my tea, knowing that I could not barge in on her first moments with him in his new home. But I watched the door anxiously. Finally, Dooley and my friend emerged and I raced over. He is as friendly and gentle a dog as God makes. All the neighbors swarmed around him, and he licked them all, though I noticed he leaned against my friend when the attention was a tad suffocating.
One other neighbor and I walked with my friend and her new dog around the block. We came across a group of neighbors on the other end of the neighborhood. They asked my friend where was her old dog? They hadn't heard about Lilly. My friend explained she had been forced to put her beloved old dog down, and then added, "So, this is Dooley, and he has mighty big shoes to fill."
I glanced at the huge dog,"Well, he has mighty big paws," I said.
And that story summarizes the way life goes,I think. There is sadness, struggle, disappointment, and death one day, but the next there is soft comforting fur, unconditional love, outpouring of celebration and rejoicing by friends when life turns sunny, and the happiness of one who had been alone who is no longer alone. Life is ultimately about finding home where you are loved. Personally, I think every glimpse of joy we have here on earth of hopes renewed, of redeeming love, of welcoming arms, reminds us of the greatest welcome we will ever receive. God will throw open the gates of Heaven, and instead of the nothingness we all have felt and all ultimately fear, there will be the realization we have finally found our way Home.
Luke 8: 40
40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.
Matthew 10: 11-13
11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.