By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published June 23, 2011
I didn’t want to go out for a walk that day, which is not really late-breaking news. You see, most days when it’s 90 degrees, I protest about going outdoors. But my husband, bless his heart, is quite good at persuading me with reasons having to do with health and fitness, and eventually, I gave in.
We usually walk from our house to Emory and back, which is about three miles, and that day was no exception. I huffed and puffed my way up the hills, stopping now and again in a blessed stretch of shade to take a long swig of ice water from my trusty bottle.
And then, just a few blocks from Emory, it happened.
We spotted a small white dog standing on the edge of a somewhat busy street. He was one of those West Highland White Terriers with the shaggy faces and short legs—and he was quite cute. People were slowing down to avoid hitting him, but he seemed confused by the cars and didn’t seem to realize he was in danger.
We began making friendly gestures, and calling him, as in “Here, doggie!” and he headed toward us, with his tail wagging quite vigorously. We discovered from the address on his nametag that we were standing right in front of his house. So while Jef scooped him up and got him safely out of harm’s way, I rang the doorbell.
“Oh, that’s Winston!” she exclaimed. “He must have gotten out when my husband went to the airport!” She then thanked us profusely as Winston scurried safely inside.
The incident with the dog made me think: What if we hadn’t come along right at that very moment? What if I had lingered even longer at home, grumbling about the heat? I reflected on all the times when people have come along right when I needed them. Each time, it was tempting to think it was a coincidence, despite the fact that I had been praying for someone just like them.
Why do we forget that every event in life is imbued with a sacramental quality? Why do we so easily forget that God is in charge of every moment? And sometimes ascribe to mere happenstance things that are really answers to prayers?
Sometimes prayers get responses so quickly, it is simply amazing. My sister, who is a widow, prayed that she would meet a man to go out with, and is now dating someone quite regularly.
Our friends had a little boy and desperately wanted a second child, but the years dragged on and it seemed hopeless. They asked friends to storm heaven for them, and we were happy to oblige. Their baby girl just turned three.
Often, we are the hands that God uses to rescue people. We are the voices that call out to them and tell them what they need to hear. We coax them out of dangerous streets where they have strayed, and onto safer ground.
After our walk that day, I thought about the times I’ve backed off from helping people. There seemed to be good reasons, of course. I didn’t want to get involved, I didn’t want to put myself in danger, or I didn’t want to interfere. All these reasons dissolve, however, when you think about a fuzzy terrier standing there in the path of cars.
I realize that dogs don’t pray, but it sure seemed as if we were an answer to someone’s prayers that day. And who knows? Maybe that wagging tail was Winston’s way of saying thank you.