I could see her in the distance all bundled up. I recognized her because her dog Gabe was with her. She came down University Avenue to the place where we usually meet. She’d been out-of-town recently so we haven’t walked together in days. Excited to see her, I called,”Well, hello my friend!”
As soon as I uttered those words, Gabe wagged his tail, perked up and bolted toward me. This sudden movement took my friend by surprise, yanked her arm fully, pulled her from the torso, next her hips complied and finally her legs followed too. As she hung onto Gabe’s leash, I witnessed her do this goofy off-balance ballet move, but finally she let go of the leash.
“Okay, go say hi to Rachel. Oh, Gabe just wants to say hello to you!” She exclaimed.
I reached down to pet Gabe’s neck and rubbed behind his ears. “Hello! I haven’t seen you in a while!” As I looked down at him, I thought… I want to love people the way Gabe loves. He loves first, excitedly, and full on. I thought about it. Gabe didn’t wait to see if I was worthy of his love and affection. He didn’t first ask me “Have you finished all your household chores? Were you a shining example of kindness today?” Nope! He just greeted me with love and excitement. He loves at all times.
Jeanne spoke through laughter, delighted in her four pawed friend’s exuberance. “Oh, my gosh, Rachel! He has been SO excited to walk now that I’m home. He ran around the yard and didn’t even want to come inside today, so I let him sit on the porch until we came to meet you.”
We untangled ourselves from the twisted leash and Gabe circled around again a few times and we gave each other a hug. We normally greet one another, laugh a bit, or a great deal, depending on the day, then we walk the neighborhood as we pray. We’ve known of each other for years but we weren’t good friends then like we are now.
A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 This proverb speaks of our friendship. I believe it is adversity and prayer which formed our hearts’ strong connection. Jeanne has been there for me. She has shared my joys, concerns, heartache and grief. She’s hung in there as I’ve rattled on and on about who knows what. (I’m a verbal processor.)
She has also been attentive when I’ve giggle about something silly. I really do crack myself up. When Jeanne laughs with me or at my silly antics it releases my goofiness. I must say, she adds to it too! We can hardly stop its like a freight train at high-speed. After I spend time with Jeanne it’s as if I’ve been through a core workout because my stomach muscles ache from all our belly laughter.
I walked over to her house the other day. I stopped a few times along the way to take these photographs of the trees in full fall splendor. It was quite a bit warmer that day. “Whoa! It’s pretty hot out here I gotta ditch my jacket.” She said. “Hey, hold onto Gabe. I’ll be right back!” Next, she handed me the leash that held her large canine and quickly dashed off.
Oh, my gosh! I’m holding a dog! “Ah, Ah, Oh, Okay?” I replied. “Absolutely! I’m flexible.”
She soon emerged, entered the code on the touch pad, lowered the garage door then turned to face me. “Oh, Rachel!” She said amused. “This is too good. I have to take your photo of you holding onto a dog! Lemme have your phone, I have to get a picture of you two. It is too cute.” She chuckled.
If you really knew me you would know that this photo captures something that is very rare. I’m not a huge pet fan. I’m quite pet impaired actually. I do, However, have two dogs that have both loved me into liking them. My neighbor Mary’s dog *Charlie and Jeanne’s dog Gabe, both are golden retrievers.
Don’t you think friendship one of God’s greatest gifts? He desires for us to be in community. He knows isolation is the evil one’s strategy. It’s better to have a partner then go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. If one falls down, the other helps, but if there is no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With the friend you can face the worst. Can you round-up a third? A three stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4: 9 –12 (The message)
Jeanne told me this about our walk together, “Today after we parted our ways. As you were headed on toward your home, for a least a block Gabe kept looking back.” She said. “It was as if he were saying. ‘Where did Rachel go? Why isn’t she still walking with us? Hm? Where is she now? I’m going to turn around again and check.'”
I desire to be the friend that loves at all times. I want to love all my friends well. But not just my friends, I want to love all people well. I want to love with Gods’ love. As I recalled the greeting I experienced today from Gabe, I thought, I want to love the way God does and kind of like Gabe does… He loves first, excitedly and full on!
*I wrote about Mary and Charlie in my book Lily Pads. Chapter 10 “A Walk with Charlie”