Whether or not one believes in angels or divine intervention, sometimes we can experience a moment of touching truth and generosity of human spirit that can leave us feeling as though angels might just exist...
Well, yesterday I was walking our very elderly dog, Ozzie. In spite of shaky legs and the occasional wobble (that's both him and me!), he still loves his walks, although these days he rarely gets as far as the local park, preferring to stay near to the house so that when he does feel tired it's not too far from home. As an ageing dog owner, I too appreciate this more leisurely local approach to walks on occasion.
So there we were walking slowly along the pavement near to some shops. Ozzie is friendly and sociable but can come across as aloof sometimes as he feels that when he has met someone (human or dog) and wagged his tail a couple of times, well then it is time to move on. He rarely stops to chat for long and is not very tolerant should I pass the time of day with someone for longer than a minute or two. First he will pull on the lead, then if that doesn't work he will huff and puff until we carry on our way. And why not, it's his walk after all. If I want to stop and chat on my walks, then that's my own business, that's his point – and I can't really argue with him on that.
Well on this occasion, Ozzie was sniffing at the corner of a shop front on his normal route, when we saw a homeless chap just ahead of us, sitting cross legged in front of a wall, a blanket over his legs and a carrier bag crumpled up at his side. His black hair was long and messy and it was clear he was not having an easy time. He seemed resigned to his situation and his eyes were kind rather than sad.
He called Ozzie over. As I began to explain that our dog is not always terribly sociable, Ozzie, making a liar out of me, trotted over to the man and wagged his tail. The homeless man patted Ozzie's head, asked his name and looked a little wistful. “They know, don't they, when they are getting old?” I nodded and replied ”yes, he's well over fourteen now but he's doing okay considering”. The man smiled and Ozzie wagged his tail, in no hurry to move on. Then the man looked directly at Ozzie and said “well you're okay now, you've met me, haven't you?”. He placed his hand on Ozzie's head and then just said the following words which floored me, “Here's some more life for you Ozzie”. I felt tears well up in my eyes. What lovely and powerful words “more life”. Ozzie wagged his tail, I thanked the man and we walked on. The man shouted after us “I'll say a prayer for Ozzie tonight”.
The next morning I took Ozzie on his usual slow and careful walk, pondering on the encounter we had the previous day. Ozzie is a big part of the life and soul of our little household and my wish is that he will continue to be for some considerable time to come. Who can tell. At fourteen he is already doing well and beating the odds in so many ways.
But I do believe in angels and I like to think that we met one in our homeless man. If that's the case then I feel hopeful that Ozzie will be enjoying walks into the future, however long we still have together.
“More life”, what a beautiful gift.
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