We were having lunch at Princi Italia in Midtown on Tuesday.
The waitress refilled my water glass and overheard me say to Benno,
“the little square cards we have that say: ‘bring your dog to church’”. She turned to walk off with her water pitcher, then turned back to offer enthusiastically, “If I could bring my dog to church, I’d go to church!”
Naturally, I dove in with directions to Highpoint and a hearty invitation. And then we talked a bunch about dogs. I risked suggesting to her what I suggested to y’all on Pentecost, about how dogs are a part of creation that make us know what the Holy Spirit is like.
We tend to think we’re in the dark about the Holy Spirit.
~Jesus? Yes. We know him. Something like friend or fellow.
~God? Yes. The Grandfatherly creator type. Maybe with some lightning bolts thrown in.
~the Holy Spirit? Not so much. Strangely other.
Except for this living with dog-love, because
they make us know about this Holy Spirit thing. . .
they make us know. . .
that we are loved unconditionally.
And like the Holy Spirit they incarnate joy. (yes – Joy is a fruit of the Spirit)
Sometimes they make a mess of things.
And sometimes they chew.
They invite you to play with a universal sign that even cats understand (read proverbs 8 if you wanna see about the Holy Spirit at play!)
They walk in devotion, watch with intent, companion us in all things no matter what the things.
They do not abandon.
Like the Holy Spirit they are wild creatures, wholly different from us, and yet, we learn a shared language and develop a mutual trust.
They want our attention and live for our affection. They follow us around.
They snug up as close to us as we will allow.
They are intuitively sensitive to our emotional terrain. And. . . well, you get the idea. . . I digress!
I did not say all of that to the waitress!
Suffice it to say, that sacramentally speaking, dogs are an “Outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual truth”.
But at the mention of our dog-life as a way to understand the Holy Spirit, her eyes got big and she was all over it! Knowingly. More stories rolled out.
One of her Holy Spirit stories was about how her dog is her intuitive radar about another person’s character and trustworthiness, because of how her dog may or may not warm up to them, or look askance, or growl, or wag.
And how that makes her feel protected.
I sometimes like thinking of Holy Spirit as guardian, so I knew what she meant.
I love stories.
I love dog stories too, and I’m thinking about sitting at a table down by the sidewalk in front of the church on High Point Road with a shingle that says:
“Tell me a story about your dog”.
Reverend Ruth Pattison
Rev. Pattison serves the people of Highpoint Episcopal Community Church as the Parson, exercising her gifts for collaborative leadership through preaching, liturgy, and the pastoral arts.