Saying good-bye to my sweet Shadow definitely made my heart tumble, hard . . .Sliding down into the slope of grief I felt a myriad of emotions, one's that I never expected to experience quite so strongly.
Yes, Shadow and I were inseparable for years and it is to be expected that I would grieve the loss of my dear friend. Yet something inside of me told me there was more, more to my deep pain and more to our story. This wasn't just a story about a woman and her dog but something that held greater significance . . .
It has been weeks since I last ran my fingers through Shadow's plush black fur, the days rushing past have given way to reflection. And I have found with the arrival of each new day less tears and greater joy than I have ever felt in my lifetime. All because of a little dog named Shadow.
This picture which first caused my heart to ache, now brings great and unexplainable peace. Shadow was always there, always near.
Sometimes the answer to our prayer is forever before us, yet we are unable to see. . .
The significance of Shadow's life was revealed to me one day not long after his passing.
One morning as I drove around town my mind began to wander; the rows of corn blowing in the summer breeze rushed past my car. I lowered the window, letting in the mid morning sun and began to pray. My thoughts shifted back to Shadow and suddenly out of nowhere I felt the Lord's nudging, and with it He said, "Did you not ask to come to know my love?" Instantly I knew.
Along my journey my prayers have changed dramatically, but more recently there has been one constant prayer; to come to truly know the depth of God's love. There is freedom in knowing that kind of love, that kind of acceptance. However, my childhood preconditioned me to only understand conditional love, and all it's chains. Unconditional love was a foreign idea, though I wanted to come to understand it, and understand it fully. Our perception becomes our reality and our reality is not always based on truth; my reality had many chains.
I have sat at this computer trying to put to words something which cannot be understood by the mind, only by the Spirit. How can I possibly explain what God did to my heart in those next moments? How He transformed my perception and answered my hearts deepest prayer? How He gave me eyes to truly see what was right there all along? How can I possibly explain what I knew in an instant?
As I sat at the wheel, tears rolled freely and suddenly I knew Shadow's life, along with the timing of his death was no mistake. Our time together was an orchestrated event ordained by my heavenly Father. Shadow was more than a dog, he was gift (and a venue) for me to taste God's adoring love.
Over the past few years I've blogged about the lessons I've learned from my sweet ol' Shadow. He taught me about faith, but the greatest lesson to be learned came after his death. With adoring eyes, Shadow taught me about being faithful to his master, yet it was in those precious moments in the car that God revealed to me Shadow's greatest lessons came by way of his unconditional love. The truth was, Shadow's greatest lesson was not how to be faithful to God, but about God's unwavering faithfulness to me.
As his legs became weaker, Shadow never wavered in his love for me. He'd look at me with such a sweet expression and stayed by my side until the end. His deepest desire was always to be near me; he lived up to his name. Ironically, while I thought I was watching over him, I have come to realize that it was he who was watching over me. The love in his eyes caused me to love him all the more. And so it has become with the Lord, I love him because he first loved me. He is forever faithful, always there, always near, cherishing our time together.
My heart reflects on all that God showed me those few moments in the car and I rejoice!
"Did you not ask to come to know my love?" Ten simple, yet profound words that forever changed my heart and my vision.
All because of the love of a little dog named Shadow, forever precious in my sight. Forever loving and forever loved.
"Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see."
Martin Luther King, Jr.