Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times"
An Ode to our Life's companion, Lexy and reflections the gift of Life!
Yesterday, we lost a friend. Yes, Lexy was just a dog but she was a dog that has been a companion, friend, family member and lover of our souls for almost 17 years. I have a question for you this fine morning as we begin our day with the Lord, "What is it about animals that touches our hearts?" When Vicky and I made the last trip to the Veterinarian yesterday to hold our "Top Dog" for the last time and usher her into the great Mystery that is life beyond life…as I cried deeply in a manner that does not happen often in my journey…as we sat together most of the night reflecting on how something so simply was so profound in the years our family has shared…I pondered that question.
Lexy was a reminder of all that is good about the gift of life that we have received from God. Consistency of love, something we all need, greeted me daily when I walked into my home. There was no judgment, no "to dos" to have to perform, no apologies needed to be given, and no self-consciousness to which to be concerned. Simple and life-changing acceptance shown through an energetic greeting, a wagging of the tail and a quick lick on the hand. I took those simple things for granted over the years…until today. You know as I do how some of the realities I just shared are absent from most of our lives. Most of us face demands, complaints, performance expectations and bitterness most every day of our lives. The world is that way in its broken state. Even so, God has provided simple creatures to remind us what's best about the world He created and the call to relationship that to which we all pray we can aspire. If only I lived and loved in such a simple way…just glad to see those who cross my path during the day. As one bumper sticker that marks the back of my truck (proudly I might add), "wag more, bark less."
Lexy was our "Top Dog." We called her that once another pet entered our home three years ago. She had walked with us through the early years of our marriage, the raising of most of our children through adolescence and has tromped through the sanctuaries and facilities of the four church facilities that we have called our spiritual home in three states. Most everybody that we knew in our Kingdom journey knew her. She traveled well so whether she hiked the trails of Glacier National Park or listened as the ocean waves on Southern California beaches told her of a bigger existence than simply what she knew as her own back yard, she was with us wherever we went. She loved to bark outside for no reason except to be heard, be an "Alpha Dog" despite being small and apparently more fluff than stuff. She was stubborn, addicted to pizza bones and always enthusiastic about a walk with me. I counted them up yesterday…over 15,000 walks over the years. At first, we would run some and then stop repeatedly for her to mark her territory. As the years passed, her vitality shifted into more reflective walks as she cherished simple aromas. Finally, over the past weeks, she sauntered her way for just a few hundred feet more content with just being in some different location and looking around to enjoy the green grass and cool breeze. She was a discriminating eater and a lover of treats of any kind. As a new puppy entered our home three years ago, she became mentor and playmate allowing Emma to tease and chase her (though slowly) up until a week before she died. No one knew about the inner suffering she experience until the last two days of her life. She bore the weights of her deteriorating body bravely and without a whimper. Even as I write this, my heart breaks for the simplicity and gift that was Lexy.
I want my life to be simple…I want to be a lover of souls without condition…I want to be more wag than bark…I want to savor simple things without complaining that I expect more…I want to walk through life enjoying the tall grass, the cool breeze and the warmth of a hug. Why pets in our lives? To teach us what the Lord can only teach us through other aspects of His creation…simplicity and grace. Yes, as Proverbs points out "a friend loves at all times." That's what I want to be known as…a lover who incarnates what Jesus incarnated, God's nature of love. I want to be happy to see everyone I see without the burden of having to know them. I want to extend acceptance wherever I travel and to whomever I meet. That's why I will cherish my memories of our dog that was named after the car we were in when we bought her in Huntington Beach in 1996. That's why tears will turn to joy and precious memories because I NEED to know that type of love and LIVE that kind of simplicity yet oft forget because of my need for self-indulgence and feeling of self-importance. "A friend loves at all times"…yep, I can't think of a better legacy than our wonderful Lexy! So long dear friend! Prance the Kingdom's fields like a puppy, beg from Banquet Table as Jesus prepares the Great Feast, and do what you always did, wait for us to return home for only then will we feel that we have respite at last.