My dog was just a puppy during the year when I served as a college chaplain. Well behaved she was not; back then we were walking 5-10 miles a day just to make her tired enough that she would sit still for fifteen minutes. But when a freshman girl died in a car accident, Laila was my "assistant" as I sat with her friends and floormates. She provided a kind of support that I couldn't, snuggling her furry little body up against sobbing young women and giving them another living creature to just hold on to. Somehow, she intuitively knew to be still, to be cuddly even though she generally isn't, to simply let people cry into her fur.
It's been a rough week around here. The fourth teenage girl in two months committed suicide, and it's just starting to come out that they may all be related, and that there have been several other attempts that also seem to be part of the same plan. It must be terrifying to be a parent right now, or to be another kid at that school, wondering which of your friends you'll have to see in a casket next.
I've also been dealing with a couple of marriages on the rocks, a homeless teenager, a couple of young adults with serious illnesses, and some emotional wackiness on my own part. I've been trying to take a lesson from Laila. I don't need to solve it all. I don't need to have the answers. I don't need to overtake the world with my brilliant plan to heal all things (which is good, because I don't so much have a plan, brilliant or otherwise). Sometimes just being there and letting people be upset and not asking anything of them is doing something.
In the midst of all this, there's been the general busy-ness of life: youth stuff, meetings, wedding season, and, oh yeah, Holy Moly Week. I think I'm managing to pull it off, but when I stop moving, I'm feeling a little weary, shell-shocked, beaten, and sad.
Meanwhile, I've noticed that Laila has been much more of a lap dog this week than usual...