I was walking home after the mid-day Good Friday service and the prayer vigil looking forward to some long awaited time with my family and Toby, when, as I approached the corner where I lived, a car pulled up to the stop sign and honked the horn. I didn’t immediately recognize the car, but just then the window rolled down and the man inside asked, “Excuse me, ma’am but are you a pastor?” Now I should say that my all black outfit and Anglican collar was a pretty good indicator.
When I indicated that yes, I was a
pastor, he looked pleased and asked, “Do you have a minute, I really need a
pastor” and began parking the car as I said that I could spare a moment. He
takes time parking a very well maintained car and steps out, beginning by
thanking me profusely, then beginning to tell me he has just had a terrible thing
He was walking his parents’ dog while visiting and it seems that the
leash was too loose. The dog who apparently often tries to slip the leash,
managed to do just that and dart into the path of a car. The result was fatal.
I expressed my condolences as he continued that he had the dog and was on the
way to have it buried, but seeing me he had stopped because “ I was wondering
since you are a pastor, if there is something you can do?”Perhaps it was my
Good Friday/Easter mindset, but I immediately began to wonder in my mind just what
he meant by this.
I suggested that I could say a prayer, a blessing of sorts
and asked if this was what he had in mind. To which he said, “why yes, that would
be great, I mean it’s not like you can raise him from the dead or something.”
Indeed. Just then a neighbor walking his dog sauntered by. The man became sad
and noted- my neighbor’s dog was wearing the same style of leash and collar. “You
there, sir! Please hold on tightly to your dog! I was walking my family’s dog
with that collar and he slipped the leash and now is dead! Take care of your
My neighbor appeared cautiously grateful and a little confused, as he
moved on. “I really did everything I could,” the man said. Of course, he had.
asked for the name of his family dog and after telling me, he offered that the dog was in the trunk. Before I could say
anything, he was popping the trunk. Two thoughts went through my head- is this
safe? And what will I see? There was a cardboard box, with a cover over it. I
offered to pray, and we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s gift to us of
creation and all the creatures we share life with, a prayer of thanksgiving for
Kelly (the recently deceased) and a prayer of hope for the day when God
restores all of creation. I prayed for comfort in this time of mourning and
peace for all whose lives were touched by Kelly.
Afterwards, he hugged me and repeated
how he had done all he could, regaled
me with the family history of canines,
and then again reiterated- “I did all I could.” I assured him that this was so,
and that he could accept that God knew this was true- that he could accept this
as true and not beat himself up. That Kelly knew but Kelly had just wanted to
run like he always liked to. He hugged me again, thanked me, wished me a
Blessed Easter, and told me how grateful he was to cross paths with a pastor.
all of the ways I have been blessed to proclaim forgiveness and assurance, I
could not have imagined this one. But as I walked a couple doors down and saw
my own puppy waiting at the door, tail wagging, I really do believe that in its own canine way, there was a story of Good Friday to Easter grace there.