My new friend, John, lost Norman, his beloved dog of many years, in 2005.
Less than two months ago, John gathered his heart and his courage and headed to a dog rescue foster home. He came back with Jesse, a blue tick coonhound, one of the neediest and most skittish dogs he'd ever seen.
For a long while, Jesse would only come out from under John's bed to eat. Outdoors was terrifying for him. John had to physically pick him up and carry him outside. Now slowly, gradually, he is finally making his way out from under the bed, out of the crate, out of the bedroom and into the living room, and even making progress outdoors. Jesse's slow development of trust is even extending to John's daughter, Maddy.
Last night John posted on Facebook that Jesse's playful side is starting to emerge. In fact, he's so playful that he ripped the blankets and pillows off John's bed and took them to his crate. The mental picture I have of that makes me smile.
I, for one, am amazed at the exuberant personality this extremely shy, abused dog is finally starting to display. I'm dumbstruck by the miracle of what love, time and patience can do to bring healing to a wounded soul.
It gives me hope.
You see, I, too, am a rescue dog. So are you, to one degree or another.
Every one of us has been abused, neglected, mistreated at some point, and we all have the scars on our hearts to prove it.
Sometimes the abuse came from people we trusted. Sometimes the neglect was because of circumstances beyond our control. Sometimes mistreatment is the result of our own bad decisions. But we all bear scars.
Human beings need grace and mercy, love and attention, to feel safe and secure, so that healing can come.
All of us. Every. Last. One.
If we can extend grace and mercy, love and attention to our fellow humans, in whatever amounts we can, we help perform miracles as well. We begin to draw those around us out from under the bed.
Sometimes it takes very little effort. Perhaps only a smile, a look in the eye and a "thank you" to the cashier having a bad day will make all the difference. Sometimes it's more of an investment.
It is ALWAYS worth it. Human beings are always worth it.
Yes, it costs us something to love people. Yes it's hard. Yes, sometimes it hurts more than we can bear. But if we hang on a little longer, if we continue to love and care and ask, if we continue to walk with each other in grace, mercy and forgiveness, miracles will happen.
Healing goes both ways. Go ask John and Jesse.
Then, take it a step further.
Go ask Maddy.
Besides the miraculous healing of this sweet dog, I love to think of the effect caring for Jesse will have on Maddy. What she is learning about perseverance, bravery, compassion and healing are lessons she will carry with her the rest of her life.
Who knows how many dogs, or humans, will be rescued by that miracle?