One summer afternoon I took LouLu the Wonder Dog to the park/playground to chase the ball. We stayed on the lawn somewhat adjacent to the outdoor play equipment; it was a sunny day and lots of kids were playing.
After retrieving the ball about a hundred times, LouLu got distracted by the children playing on the playground, specifically by the fragrance of cookie and cracker crumbs. She dropped the ball and entered the forbidden area, found a small boy holding about half a cookie, grabbed it out of his hand, and ran off, leaving him screaming in terror of her big mouth and sharp teeth. I quickly hurried over to get her and pull her away, leaving the mother to take care of her child.
Months later, LouLu and I were again at the park, throwing and receiving balls, each of us doing the thing we do best. From a fair distance down the lawn I heard a woman’s voice calling to me: “Hey, you! You who own LouLu!”
At this point, LouLu had forgotten the ball and was sniffing in the bushes, at the other end of the grassy field from where the woman was calling. I turned around to see what she wanted, and she began walking towards me.
She said in an angry voice, “I recognize the name of the dog. She was the one who stole the cookie out of my son’s hands. He was so scared, he wouldn’t come back to the park until today! And who do we see? You again! If you don’t leash your dog, I am going to report you to the police!”
She was right. There is a leash law in Seattle parks, and I was in violation of it. So are a lot of people who take their dogs to the park, but that was beside the point. I apologized profusely for my lack and for LouLu’s eagerness, but the woman was having none of it. She was mad as hell and she wasn’t going to take it anymore.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a little boy standing about where the woman had been when she first called to me. “Is that your son?” I asked. She said it was, and the little boy began hesitantly to come towards us.
By this time LouLu was almost through sniffing and was beginning to walk back towards me. As the little boy came near his mom, and while I was still apologizing, I suddenly found myself asking the boy, “Would you like to pet LouLu?” He nodded. I clamped the leash on her. He walked slowly towards her, then reached out his hand and stroked her furry head. Then he looked at her face (by this time she was nice and mellow from all that retrieving) and said, “I forgive you.”
Out of the blue.
“I forgive you.”
I looked at the mother.
The mother looked at me.
We both looked at the boy, still petting LouLu.
Something important just happened. The Holy Spirit was at work, uniting us around a dog who just acted like a dog, not meaning harm, just a dog who loved cookies.
And the little boy had blessed and forgiven her.
It was a moment.
A moment filled with the Holy Spirit.