Coming Home to Love
April 14, 2014
Last fall my beloved dog of 17 years died. Anyone who has loved and been loved by a pet knows the deep grief of that loss. I decided to be dog-free for a while. I wanted to give my grief space, not to rush into anything. “A while” lasted a few months. Even in the busyness of the Church year and all that is fall in Kentucky, I felt an emptiness. When I came home, the house felt too big. I realized I missed coming home to love.
So, in a moment of crazy, because I think the most loving things we do have a dose of crazy in them, I went to our local Humane Society and met Evie. Still afraid of whatever we fear after a time of grief, I gave myself a day. Then I returned and came home with her.
Was it love at first sight? Yes.
And I still cried the first day with her. Maybe grief for my loss. Maybe fear. Who knows. But Evie stayed. I stayed. She discovered toys and play. I discovered anything on the floor was an Evie toy, including shoes. For the first few weeks, when I came home she wagged her tail, but still kept her distance. I would sit on the sofa until she came to me and we went for our afternoon walk. We slowly discovered our routine…together.
One day, after a particularly long and stressful day in the office, I came home to Evie, meeting me at the door and bouncing until I picked her up and let her give me Evie kisses.
And I realized I came home to love.
Easter isn’t one day because love in its fullest measure does not happen in one day. It roots and grows over days and weeks and a lifetime. It enters our lives sometimes quietly, sometimes surprisingly, always a change. We may open the door to love after a time of grief or stasis or a period of preparation. On Easter, we are asked to open the door to love in its most glorious expression. That initial meeting, however amazing, is only a first touch of love. Its fullest measure comes as we allow love to grow…and we allow ourselves to be changed by love as Christ moves more fully into our lives.
That’s the myth, isn’t it? That love will fit neatly into the routine of our lives and we won’t have to change – at all. The truth is love, no matter how it’s embodied, invites us to change. Because of Evie, my shoes all live at a safe height. Because of Christ’s Resurrection, humanity lives into new heights and depths of love.
This season, discover Easter day by day with us. Let this season of love root in your life and grow in surprising, challenging, even breathtaking ways. Let the growth of love change us all. Holy Week and Easter remind us that love isn’t always sweet or without tears. Love often feels unsteady, and when we welcome it into our lives, we may feel cautious. Even with the joy, this Easter love is a new and mysterious presence in our lives.
Over the 50 Days of Fabulous, many voices on this site explore and discover the love that bursts from the tomb on Easter day. This year, we hope you will join us as we discover Easter’s love together, as we let it fully into our lives, as we explore it recklessly and cautiously.
Easter is coming. Welcome this holy and miraculous love home. And let it grow wildly.
As an unapologetic animal lover, I can relate to,your story. I believe that God sends his angels to us,when we need them.
I think that Evie qualifies. What a sweetheart!
Madeleine and Esther(my companion, my muse of 7 years.)
What a wonderful way to begin the second day of Holy Week. Thank you Laurie for sharing this wonderful story. I to am an avid pet lover and several years ago tried to convince my family that after we lost our two cats, NOT to have any more pets. We have a democracy in our home, so I lost and to this day am very glad that I did!!
I lost my cat of 17 years yesterday. Thank you for being God’s word to me today.
Thanks for the Evie story,it was uplifting (:
Beautifully written — we have made the difficult decision to euthanize our 13-year-old cat, Princess, this very week; I will walk the same path into grief but I will love again. Thank you for expressing and sharing your journey.
My cat, Esther, is curled up next to me as I type this. When I moved here, I paid a pet deposit that at the time was enough to make my toes curl but she has a worth that cannot now be measured by something so paltry as money.
She, like Evie, meets me at the door every day with her uniquely “catty” commentary. At night she curls up next to my pillow and sometimes will,swish my face with her tail!
Cats I expect don’t show love in quite the same way as dogs but I get a welcoming dose of it,every day!
I love my kitty 🙂 !
What a wonderful way to put the love we get from our cats!! Definitely something that money can not buy. Thanks Madeleine.
So sad for your loss 🙁
So happy for you and your new love 🙂
What a wonderful posting for Holy Week 🙂 🙂 🙂
In late summer of 2012 we lost our cat of 17 years. It was a very sad time, then in September my wife and I each lost a son. In April of 2013 we knew we needed something and God gave us two beautiful kittens to help ease the burden of our loss, Their love has no boundaries.
Thank you, Laurie, for the lovely, hopeful story. My husband promised that, when we moved to our new house last year, we would be able to adopt a new “lover dog,” as was our last fur-baby Renee who passed away several years ago. After we build a deck and a fence, I’ll be headed to the animal shelter. Thanks for sharing your journey of love with Evie and with Our Savior.
Thank you for this post. Coming home to love is a deep joy.
We have had pets of one sort or another all of my life. At one point we were having a “contest” over which family had more different kinds of pets! At one point in my life, I applied to both veterinary medical school and human medical school at the same time — when I was accepted to both I went for my first love of human medical school, but in some ways I have some regrets of not going the other direction — but that’s a long story. I would never want to live without our pets. We currently have an 18 year old Siamese cat — pretty old for a Siamese cat — fortunately, he is still going strong. His brother died a couple of years ago, and that was hard. Like all Siamese cats, our Chipper talks to us. He makes sure I get up in the morning to feed him. My younger sister who I share an apartment with has had some recent surgeries. Chipper got really upset when that happened and definitely complained because she was not there! How do you reassure a cat that the missing person will be back in a few days? He is definitely my “BFF” and I am sure my sister would agree. The true love of a pet comes closer to being the love of Christ for us compared to human love, because all too often we put conditions on that. There is nothing like the loyalty and love of a pet.
And it definitely takes time to grieve for the loss of a pet, just as it does a human being. That loss is deeply felt and time to get to the point where you can cope with that loss! While I have lost both of my parents and all of my grandparents, and all of that still causes pain even today, I have also lost many pets over the years. We used to have a chihuahua who suddenly ruptured her aortic valve. I still remember that day — it was absolutely horrible — I immediately recognized what had happened and all we could do was get her to the Vet as fast as we could. She died in my sister’s arms as they pulled into the parking lot at the Vet’s office! That brother of our current cat also still hurts. Chipper also shows that he misses his brother! People who don’t have pets and especially if they don’t like pets have a hard time understanding all of that. I would never want to be without a pet. Indeed, we are trying to get a Siamese kitten as a second pet (it will take a little bit for Chipper and the kitten to get along with each other, but it will be worth it!)
There is a lot that humans can learn about love from animals, and I for one am glad we have them! Thank you for these words!
I meant having a contest with our family veterinarian! Oooops!
Well said, Phil. Our furry/feathered companions can teach us about unconditional love in a way that few humans can.
Oh, my – how beautiful. And so is Evie!! I had almost exactly the same experience when I lost a beloved furry friend and decided “no more”. But that was saying “no more” to the love you describe so eloquently. I changed my mind, too, and Toby is a true gift – as is this website. 50 Days of Fabulous – and of love – what a splendid promise. Thank you.
Hey Laurie: I’ve sent an invitation to my entire congregation to sign up for these posts this year. I so loved them last year. Thank you for doing it.