My Dog Sits on Me
My dog sits on me…
Not in a “Let’s-cuddle-up-for-a-movie” kind of way, nor in a “You’re-home-and-I-missed you” kind of way, either. In fact, my dog is one of the least snuggly pups I’ve ever met.
But she sits on me sometimes when she senses anxiety in me. I may not even realize that my heart is pumping faster than usual or that I have tears welling up in my eyes, but suddenly she’ll show up at my feet, pawing at my leg as if begging me to sit down. Then she’ll hop into my lap and lay there, curled up like a 22-pound weighted blanket across my thighs. And unlike other times of the day, when she is off chasing bunnies or sniffing for crumbs around the kitchen tiles, she stays perfectly still on top of my body, riding the wave of distress with me.
Last Tuesday, for example, I was sitting on the couch, scrolling through the news, when I learned about yet. another. shooting, adding the names of elementary school children and teachers to the list of innocent folks killed through senseless acts of gun violence in the last week alone. I couldn’t even begin to put myself into the shoes of the families and communities directly touched by such atrocities. Yet even a fragment of their grief stirring in me was enough to signal my dog into action.
I never trained her as a service dog. Somehow though, call it “intuition” or “bonding,” she senses when I need a comforting presence, and she responds to that need without hesitation or judgement.
We don’t all have compassionate canines. Heck, it can be hard to find people who will show up so faithfully and empathetically when life gets impossibly messy. But we all might look for the God we read about in scripture: the One who transformed chaos into goodness, death into life, condemnation into mercy. We may imagine God wiping away our tears before we even realize we’re crying. We may long to feel the snug embrace of God’s protective arms.
Why, though? Why seek an invisible God? Why put our stories of grief and loss side-by-side with biblical stories of hope and resurrection?
Well in the very, very least, I seek God because it is too dang hard to live in this world without God. I pour myself into God’s narrative of love for creation because God’s story is far better than the stories of hate and injustice that surround us. And I long for God’s comforting presence because…well, because my dog sits on me. And I believe “the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”
Bidden or not bidden, God is present.
From Romans 8:22-26: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together as it suffers together…And the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings and sighs too deep for words.”