We adopted Buddy, our tri-color corgi, 11 years ago. He spent time wandering the streets as a stray and endured the indignities of animal control before he found us.
They called him “Tex.” But he soon made it clear his name was “Buddy.” You can read his story in the children’s book, ”Buddy the Floppy Ear Corgi.”
When I go for a walk without Buddy, I’m invisible. Few people notice me or speak. But when Buddy takes me for a walk, we’re celebrities. Children stop what they’re doing and run to us, asking if they can pet him. Some adults do the same. We’ve gone for walks on beaches in Texas, in neighborhoods and parks in Minnesota, Montana and Colorado.
Buddy never seems to meet a stranger. He doesn’t care what people look like, what color their skin or what kind of tattoos they might have. They can be gay, straight, male, female, old or young, rich or poor, highly educated or not, fully abled or physically challenged, Asian, Black, Hispanic, white or Native American. He loves them all — and they all seem to love him.
A few years ago, Buddy helped us “adopt” a group of international students at Baylor who met in our home for Bible study. They were from Indonesia, South Africa, Zambia, China and the Czech Republic. They loved Buddy, took him for walks and kept him when we were away. Buddy loved them.
They became our “children” and, although they’ve earned graduate degrees and scattered to the ends of the Earth, we remain in touch. Our world that’s beset by prejudice, suspicion, hatred and violence needs to learn the lessons Buddy has been teaching.
It’s a lesson I’m still working on; a lesson Buddy is still trying to teach me. It’s 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 wasn’t 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).
Every person we meet, however they look, wherever they’re from, is special in the eyes of God, made in his image, a person for whom God has declared and demonstrated his love. (John 3:16).