Yesterday Toby and I set out in for the trail in the woods, probably with different objectives- Toby intended to sniff and mark everything while I intended to photograph some outstanding mushrooms and toadstools I had seen earlier and get a little exercise. We started from our cottage down the street and through a grassy section toward the highway. Suddenly along the walking path there was a man who asked if we had seen a runaway beagle. After noting that I had not, I remarked that I assumed he was looking for his. He said the dog actually belonged to a friend but they had spread out looking for it. We had just exchanged names when I saw out of the corner of my eye a short beagle snoofing its way through the grass down the hill from us. As her tags jingled I saw she was sporting a pink collar. I asked if the dog was a girl and pointed to the beagle ahead. He paused and said that he thought so, but then he stopped and asked,
“ But even if that’s not the beagle I am looking for, it is SOMEONE’S dog headed for the road, right?”
We split up. He called her name while I hoped to draw her to Toby for the usual sniffing exchange. This was foiled by two things- one was Toby’s desire to sniff everywhere she had been as I was tugging on the leash to get him to my more important task. The second was the beagle’s belief that this was a game of chase as she careened closer to the road. We were able to coax her back and ultimately to us where we grabbed hold of her to check her tags. On the pink collar was a Minnie Mouse tag which in the back had her name. “Puzzle.”
It turns out this was the runaway in question. We had been looking for a Puzzle.
For want of a leash the man took off his belt and fashioned one and away they went after the usual thank yous and pleasantries. As we were about on our way a van pulled up and asked if I had seen a man named Drew. I was able to report that Drew had Puzzle and they were headed back to the cottage. More thank yous and off we all went. Exchanging only minimal and yet necessary information. Deed accomplished. Yet each of us in some way still thinking about what had reconnected or connected us.
As Toby and I headed on to the trail I was struck and still thinking about the comment of the man named Drew as we looked for the missing Puzzle.
“It is SOMEONE’S dog” as the precursor to why we should care no matter what.
Today we had our Blessing of the Animals which this year was Blessing of Animals and Their People. All kinds of dogs, and some who brought pictures of departed pets or named them, and one brave lone cat. One dog named Mercedes even sported pearls. In a circle of sorts, in the park, surrounded by the fall Flea Market, the two and four-legged gathered. We read from Genesis and the arranging of all things by our Creator, as we named ourselves and our pets and received blessing, and as we gave praise for all of creation, it really is the point-We are all someone’s.
This is why we have pets, and long for relationships. And it was obvious there was much love and care for our critters. But there are two things to take away that I think are even bigger- one being the most important- that we are all someone’s- we are all God’s. God who created an entire arrangement for our care and companionship and did so out of love. God who redeems all creation so we are always someone’s in the work of the cross begun at our baptism. And that as much as we love our pets we are then called to look for others so that no one is ever under the impression that they are no one’s someone.
After all of the pets and owners were blessed, I invited anyone else desiring a blessing to come forward in our little circle in the park. Probably about 6 people did. I assumed all was complete when an elderly gentleman came to me and said, "Pastor, these two guys were not blessed." Because everyone is SOMEONE'S.
Today we gathered as young and old, Christian, Jewish, a little of everything, gay and straight, single and married, partnered and widowed, to remind ourselves that we are someone’s and that those relationships are with each other and with God.
And no matter when it seems like a puzzle in life, there is a place for us
and we are the ones God is looking for.