The first lesson in today's Daily Office readings continues the saga of the Israelites' fear about entering the well-populated Promised Land. In disgust, God resolves that the entire generation will have to die off before a new generation is allowed to enter Canaan. Two exceptions are made. Joshua, who will lead the people when the time comes, and Caleb, who was forever faithful and trusting in God.
Caleb is also the word for "dog" in Hebrew. No surprise there. Nothing better acquaints us with faithfulness and trust than our canine friends. When a recent Reflection showed the picture of my former canine friend Miriam, one response wondered if dogs have souls. If you have kept the company of dogs, you know the answer.
When I first adopted Miriam, her Border Collie half caused her to nip at children as she tried to herd them. Since my home was then a gathering spot for neighborhood kids, I had to think about re-homing her, which tore at my heart. While this issue was pending, I got a phone call that caused me great grief. Sitting on the coach, I held my face in my hands crying. When I took my hands away, there was Miriam, looking just as distraught as I felt; she licked away my tears. She stayed, and we figured out how to stop the nipping.
Miriam's lesson to the world: Be willing to enter the sorrow of another and dry their tears. It might just lead to living happily together.