At least once a year I write a column about my dog, Buddy, a tricolor Corgi. Buddy found me eight years ago. He had to spend some time wandering the streets as a stray and endure the indignities of animal control and Corgi rescue to do it. But he succeeded. They called him “Tex.” But he soon made it clear that his name was “Buddy.”
When I go for a walk without Buddy, I am invisible. Few people notice me or speak. But when Buddy takes me for a walk, we are celebrities. Children stop what they are doing and run to us, asking if they can pet him. Some adults do the same.
Buddy never seems to meet a stranger. He doesn’t care what people look like, what color their skin, what kind of tattoos they might have. They can be gay, straight, male, female, old or young, rich or poor, educated or disabled. He loves them all and they all seem to love him. And they all seem to feel better after they pet him.
It’s a lesson I am still working on, a lesson Buddy is still trying to teach me. It is a lesson Jesus taught and one that Peter struggled to learn. Jesus intentionally led his followers through Samaria, a region Jews refused to visit, and introduced them to a woman who had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband. He incensed his hometown authorities when he pointed out that God used Elisha to heal a Syrian rather than a Jew. He embraced lepers who were outcast from their families. He healed the sick, the blind and the lame. He dined with despised tax collectors. This was not the journey Peter and his companions expected.
It was only later when the Holy Spirit led him to enter the home of a Roman Centurion that Peter seemed to understand. Upon entering the home, Peter said, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” (Acts 10).
Last week I stopped to get a haircut. A young woman in her 30s cut my hair. She had piercings in her nose, tongue and chin and tattoos covering her arms. We struck up a conversation. She has three little girls, 11, 7 and 5 who live with her ex-mother-in-law. She miscarried a baby boy. A few years ago, she “came out of the closet.” I asked her what this meant and she told me she is gay. She said people thought she wanted to abandon her children, but this was not the case. She was simply tired of being depressed and suicidal. She is committed to caring for her children as much as the courts will allow her. I told her I hoped she found a church that loved her. She said she always loved going to church but she was tired of being judged.
I think Buddy would love this young mother and she would love him. I am sure God loves her. I wonder, after Charlottesville, when we will ever learn the lesson God built into Buddy, the lessons Jesus taught when He was here.