Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The suicide rate of our military this year: almost one a day. Suffering upon Suffering.

In the newspaper there was a picture of a returned GI, obviously walking with difficulty, a dog by his side looking up at him. It illustrated a program development encouraged by the VA and others to help sufferers from the Post-Traumatic condition.

I’ll bet you know some war stories, too, about that sort of relationship. One of the most unusual I know was of this German who had served in Russia. You would have thought he had suffered from the cold. “No, I took care of twenty one guard dogs. When I lay down to sleep I would just call some over by name and point to where I wanted them to sleep next to me.”

One of the war memorials I remember best is in Canada. We had gone into a state building to pay our respects to the memory of those in WWI. And there, above the center of a wide door was a pictorial statute of a dog. In Memoriam. Truly.

We have such a dog, a Yellow Lab. A neighbor asked us to take her. She belonged to a sight impaired man; at age ten such service dogs are retired. A meeting was arranged with him and Jacy. When he felt down and removed her harness, she raced around our backyard at full speed, then came back and sat down, ready to have the harness put back on. A week later he came, gave her a final pat, walked slowly away on the arm of a friend. Jacy looked at him, then at us. It was instant bonding. When I looked at that newspaper picture and the beyond-all-telling war wearied man and his canine friend, I knew what I was seeing, knew those feelings.

What I did not realize was what was happening to me. It was a completely new insight into a Gospel story; it took days to happen and maybe it is not yet at the full, but it is worth sharing.

Do you remember that parable Jesus told about Lazarus, the beggar, and the Rich Man? Lazarus was so poor and sick that he lay on the street and the dogs would lick his sores. I had always gone, “ugh” at the thought. Suddenly, I thought, “Of course, a dog would come and lick his sores. How like a dog to do that for a hurting person!” And then I thought, “And how like Jesus to know that about a dog and make it a part of one of his parables.” Know anything personally about 'total acceptance' and healing?

Next time I am feeling “down” and just flop in my chair and my friend comes over and sits down by my foot so she can be close, I am going to remember that parable. I hope that hurting GI I saw pictured will, too. 

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