I grew up with pets–a menagerie of dogs, rabbits, snakes and ducks when I was little. And now as an adult, I have lived with dogs for the last 30 years.
Early on I learned a good deal about faith active in love. I took Kringle the pug and Snoopy the vizsla on adventures through the woods. I learned about faithful harvesting as I taught Jimbo the boxer to pick tomatoes and blueberries from our garden. And recently, Oliver the Pug and Sparky the Beagle have taught me over and over about meeting my neighbors.
Now, a little older myself, I am learning about faithfulness from our old rescue beagle, Sparky, who has slowed down recently. Sparky was known for climbing onto tables and counter tops to get food. He was as graceful as a ballet dancer when jumping to grab a sandwich from a serving tray.
A few weeks ago one of our neighbors asked, “What’s going on with Sparky? He’s lost his fire.” And she turned to me and said, “Keep an open heart.” I knew then, that Sparky was dying.
I confess I want Sparky to fly around the parsonage again, yet I am listening to the invitation to keep my heart open, and as I do so, I continue to learn faith lessons.
As I rub Sparky’s soft head, I tell him stories of how he has been love in our household — it’s his canine salvation history. As I carry Sparky up the stairs, I am reminded how God has faithfully carried me from time to time. And as I sit silently on the floor with Sparky resting in his bed, I breath in and out deep gratitude for this faithful servant who knows me so well.
It’s hard to keep an open heart as someone is dying, because it hurts, yet faith tells me — even in the pain, it is well with both our souls.
My husband Ed and I were honored to be with Sparky as he took his last breath on August 8, 2016. We are grateful for the help of Roni and Israel who carried Sparky to our car on his last day with us. We are grateful for Rachael who cared for Oliver the Pug as we left home and traveled to the vet. We are grateful for the Veterinarian and medical team at DistrictVets who offered us a sacred ritual around dying. And, we are grateful to God, because even though we were deeply saddened, it remained well with our souls.