Experience is the best and most complete teacher. So that’s what God means when He says “count it all joy” when you experience various trials. One never really gains full understanding until one walks the proverbial mile in whatever the shoes of circumstance require.
It seems cruelly ironic to me that in order to be filled with knowledge, I must experience loss. Not once, but twice.
If you are not even a moderate animal lover, then I recommend you stop reading now. This stream of cyber consciousness is not for you. It won’t make a lot sense to you.
Now that we have cleared the room of those who have yet to experience the unconditional love of one of God’s creatures, we can continue.
Back on October 19, 2010, I watched one of my most beloved pals take his last breath in our living room. In hindsight (which is 50/50, I say), it’s good he is not suffering anymore. Caleb, our sturdy, joy-filled, sweet-spirited six-year-old Golden Retriever had been battling a mysterious illness for several weeks, and it was taking its toll on his body and mobility. The ever-present bright spark in his large oval chocolate brown eyes that turned down in the corners when he smiled, was beginning to fade. On that day he told me, in his own way, he was going. And he said good-bye. A friend told me he is waiting for me on the porch of the mansion Jesus is preparing for me, as it says in the Bible. I love that.
Tonight, February 17, 2011, still smarting from the loss of my precious pup, Sparky, the baby squirrel we had rescued from a 25-foot fall out of the nest in one the Oak trees in our backyard, ran up a far tree and left our backyard, and has not returned. I knew this day would come. It’s only right. He’s a wild animal, and must be released into the wild if he’s going to live a good squirrel life. But this knowledge doesn’t provide much comfort when the day finally comes.
His house is empty. No fluff of gray fur or a tiny brown ear sticking up from the pile of dishtowels we gave Sparky to make a cozy bed for himself. I had bottled-fed and prayed over this tiny creature since late August when we found him barely alive and bruised. I watched the fuzzy brow fur grow-in to cover his tiny pink body. We rejoiced in the day he finally opened his eyes, and when he started eating solid food. But now he’s gone. I’ll look for him in the morning, but he won’t be in his five-foot “Sparkytown” cage in our dining room to greet me, stretching toward me to take the acorn I would give him.
Vacant. Empty. Gone.
Loss represents a void. But grief is quick to take up that empty space. Thick and ever-present. Heavy and hallow at the same time. Stifling any kind of flow of life that had previously ran freely.
I can only pray to attain wisdom from all this, and trust God that it’s part of His plan for me. Maybe I love my animals too much, finding too much comfort and company with them in my semi-isolated life. But at the moment, I’m far from the spirit of the precious young mother Mary who would experience the greatest loss and gift, and who said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).