Zoe lives across the street. She is always friendly, always happy to see you and hates to see a visit with you come to an end.
I admire Zoe. She goes to the Children’s Hospital and volunteers her time to calm the children preparing for surgery. Zoe sees a lot of heartache, but her compassion is so enormous the ache seems to not hurt quite so much.
I often think God speaks directly into Zoe’s ears so that she knows how to spread compassion, hope and grace — here, there and everywhere.
Zoe’s uniform is a vest that she wears around her body with her title: “Therapy Dog.” She is a white, fluffy, 6-year-old goldendoodle with long eyelashes to die for.
She can walk into a crowded room and know who needs her the most and go over to them. She is not told, nor is she coaxed. Her owner stands back, waits and then lets Zoe work.
After a hard day, she comes home to the house across the street and collapses on the floor. You see, loving is hard work.
I was at church Sunday morning and looked around the sanctuary and watched as the sun filtered through the windows. A glow settled on the words to my left that are inscribed on the wall: compassion, hope, grace. To my right are the words here, there, everywhere.
I thought about the meaning and beauty of those words. I thought how desperately we need to not only believe in them, but to practice them.
People say it is easier to spread hatred than love. Love takes work. I think they may be right. If you think about what you hear and see on the world stage; indifference, despair and disgrace are front and center and are spreading to here, there and everywhere.
It is the good versus evil in life.
While it is good to teach our children about good versus evil, it is also necessary to teach them the only way to kill indifference is with compassion. The only way to cure despair is with hope. And, the only true grace comes from God.
Our children need to learn these principals not by a written lesson, but shown to them by the deeds of their parents and grandparents every day in a multitude of ways.
One day when I was at my grandmother’s for a visit, my cousin made me angry. My 10-year-old brain could not understand why he had done what he did.
Before I went into a temper tantrum, my grandmother approached me and said these words, “Did you put his shoes on?”
“Uh?” I grunted.
“You see, before you jump to a conclusion and spread your anger, stop and put yourself in his shoes and then you might understand the “why”?”
I actually did that, and as much as I hated to admit it, I did indeed understand.
She taught me compassion was better to spread than anger and cruelty.
To give another hope is as uplifting to the giver as it is to the receiver. Hope is the road to tomorrow. Without it, why bother to drive up the road? We rely on each other for hope.
When my son was in ICU with a broken neck in Florida, I went down the hall to get a cup of coffee in the waiting area early one morning.
There in a dimly lit corner, I saw a woman sitting alone rocking slightly in a straight chair. I was so tired, I opted to ignore her and started to leave with my hot coffee.
Suddenly, I found myself backing up, as if I were being pushed.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee?” I whispered.
Still rocking, she looked into my face, “No, thank you.”
“Are you here because of a relative?” I inquired.”
“Yes, my son is down the hall and they don’t think he will make it,” she said as tears brimmed in her eyes.
I sat down beside her. I took her hand and we just talked. It was difficult to spread hope to her. My son was going to live and hers, probably not.
We talked about God and faith and suddenly she could see God’s grace being brought to her. She thanked me and held onto my hand.
As I got up to leave, I said, “How old is your son?”
She told me and I got chills. He was one day older than mine.
As tired as I was, I was reminded by her to be thankful in all things and to always stop to aid someone in need.
Zoe, and all service dogs like her, have a “one up” on humans. They don’t think of themselves before others. They don’t know how to spread indifference, despair and disgrace.
They have no fear of reaching for another when there is a need to do so. Zoe hears the whispers of her master as well as the cry of a baby.
When Zoe leaves a child she gives them her business card. It has her picture on it and tells about what she does.
Many children take those cards with them. They will put them in a prominent place in their rooms to remember their sweet, fluffy-faced friend. Zoe, without a spoken word, had given them understanding and unconditional compassion.
We can stop the spread of hatred and anger by our words, our actions and our hearts, and choose instead to spread compassion, hope and grace here, there and everywhere.
In doing so, we become of service to the world just like my pal, Zoe.
Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell. She may be reached at [email protected]