These are days of extraordinary loneliness for many people. Several of my past blogs have mentioned the kindnesses of people reaching through the fog surrounding others to let them know they are thought of and loved. Please contact the lonely, here is why.
You may have read my post two weeks ago on the death of our beloved dog, Finn. To my surprise, it produced a number of personal responses. Some requests were to send it to people who either lost pets during this time and were alone or had no other family members but had a loyal pet. So I made more copies of my post and while doing so decided to take a chance and send one to Finn’s previous owner, who, according to the address on his adoption papers, lived out of state. Thinking the owner may no longer reside at the address, I still took a chance and sent the post.
A few days later, a woman called me and said she was calling for her daughter. She broke into tears. Her daughter was Finn’s previous owner, a young single mother who upon getting a divorce had to give her beloved dog to the ex-husband as she could not take him with small children into a rented home. Apparently, Finn then got loose at his new home and someone had taken him to a shelter where he was identified through a chip. The woman’s daughter had identified him, paid for all his medical expenses and for travel to the closest spaniel rescue center which is near us in Northeast Ohio.
But here is the real story. The woman on the phone was crying which turned to serenity. She told me that the letter I sent her daughter meant very much because this past summer that lovely daughter, that exceptional young mother had died of melanoma. I paused; a silence fell between us and I could almost hear her tears falling. She was a beautiful, caring woman said her mother. When she wanted a dog for her young family, she went to a prison where prisoners rehab street dogs. They train them as part of their own rehabilitation and put the dogs up for adoption. Finn had arrived at the prison in deplorable condition. A prisoner had teased out the real beauty and character of the dog within and the young mother immediately connected with him.
As we continued talking, I learned the young woman was always caring about others. Cards and letters from friends and co-workers were testimonies to a life well lived, said her mother. Many people referred to her engaging, welcoming smile. Her very sad parents, on the other end of this phone line connected with me, were both, along with me, summoning all we could in the cloud of grief, to heal each other.
I pieced together a biography of a special woman and mother. Surely this rubbed off on our Finn and made him so affectionate to us. And then there was his experience in the prison where he was made whole and lovingly brought to his essence as a special dog by someone who needed him as much he needed that someone. As one of the sisters put it, “Finn was a social activist before he came to us. No wonder he fell right in!”
I would have learned none of this without having mailed a letter to an unknown person whose mother suddenly became as special to me as her daughter through a dog and a letter. In your prayer, think of people who need something from you. Reflect on how this is the Gospel being enacted through you.
My encouragement is: Reach out. Mail letters, cards, maybe flowers, gifts. Send them to people you love and even people you may not know who are on your church’s prayer list or any list you come across. Send to people you have not even met like those in a nursing home or medical center or end-of-life center.
Swallow your pride and send to a relative who is alienated or simply off the family grid. You will be surprised.
This is the loaves and fishes in reality. The more you connect, the more Christ’s love becomes real and multiplied. Please try it and let me know what happens. Be prepared for surprises like I had.