“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” Psalm 46:1-3 (NRSV)
You learn a lot about your dog when self-quarantined together. I guess one could also say that your dog learns a lot about you, too. Max, my two-year-old chocolate Labrador, has enjoyed having me home a lot more over the last five weeks. However, he is not impressed by teleconference technology that requires him to sit quietly and listen to meetings. He is also not amused with the pool cleaning person and would like to escape out the front door to play with the children across the street. He seems to appreciate the longer and more frequent walks, but he does not understand why everyone does not want to pet and play with him. And he is utterly annoyed with small dogs that bark at him along the way. He wants just one fair shot at catching a rabbit if only to prove that he can.
I have been grateful that his “doggie daycare” is considered an essential service and remains open. I still take him a few days a week to stretch his legs and expend some energy. And frankly, so that I can get some work done at home in peace! Inevitably, he will fall asleep in my car on the way home from daycare, and that is always a sign that it’s going to be a quiet evening.
But here is what’s interesting about what Max does: he can be in another part of the house and if I sneeze or cough, he will run to wherever I am and “check” on me. If we are on a walk and a child cries, he will immediately stop, and his ears perk up to listen intently. Whenever he senses that there could be a problem, Max seems ready to tackle it. It is a very endearing quality.
That is also my vision of God. That there are moments when God senses danger or heartache and runs toward us. Not to magically make it go away, but to comfort us and be present to us.
Maybe that is why Dog is God, spelled backwards?
Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor
For mental health professionals supporting people through this difficult time:
“Loving God, thank you for all of the wondrous ways you make yourself known to us. Amen.”