We have a 13-year-old Siberian Husky named Belle. And because she’s from Siberia, she has had a difficult time acclimating to our hot Missouri summers. Every year without fail, when it starts getting really hot and humid, Belle starts whining and complaining. She goes on and on about how great Siberian summers were back in the day and how much she hates the Midwest, blah, blah, bark. It’s totally obnoxious.
Because of her disdain for the heat, she absolutely refuses to go outside, even to do her business. It’s amazing really, the bladder control on this dog! Unless she has a secret corner we don’t know about, she can go an entire day without relief. But as impressed as I am with her doggy-doo-doo discipline, it does not make up for the fact that she has decided that 2:00 in the morning is the optimal time for her potty break. It’s infuriating!
So, the other night, just as I was in the middle of some rare but deep sleep, I was awakened by a bark. The weird thing about Belle’s bark; it’s apparently at a frequency level that cannot be heard by female ears, because Sally never hears it…craziest thing! Anyway, I groggily made my way downstairs to the back door were Belle was patiently waiting, tail between her legs. I opened the door for her and reached over to turn on the back porch light. What I witnessed next seemed like a dream scene from an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
The humidity was so thick that it had created a low-lying fog hovering a few feet off the ground. The glow from the porch light created eerie shadows from the trees onto the wet grass. I rubbed my eyes to make sure the haze was not from gunk matting my eyelids together. When I refocused, I noticed there was not one, not two, not three, but four deer lying in our backyard.
My first thought was, “O crud, Belle’s going to go nuts!” I feared she would start barking at them and chasing them out of the yard, running past the invisible fence barrier. But as I looked over at her, I discovered her simply minding her own business (pun intended). She was looking at them, and they were looking at her, but no one made a move. It was like they were saying, “You know what, it’s hot, everyone’s tired, let’s make peace and just call it a night.” I was so impressed with my dog that night. I was so proud of how she allowed the deer to stay in her yard, to offer a place to rest without making them feel uncomfortable or like they were intruding. She did her business and came back into the house.
The next day as I recalled that scene, I wasn’t sure I had dreamed it or if it was real. But seeing the four flat areas on the grass convinced me it was real. As I thought about it, I wondered, what would it take for the church to start being as welcoming and accommodating as Belle? What would it take for us to allow people who are different from us, maybe even those who were once seen as our enemies, to find rest and sanctuary in our church? Maybe if an old dog, like Belle, can learn new tricks, so can we.