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Spiritual Reflections

Dog As Divine Messenger

by Joyce Tompkins

Joyce Tompkins

Joyce Tompkins is the Religious Advisor to the Campus Protestant Community. Other Spiritual Reflections are available on the Religious Advisor's page.

You can write to Joyce at

What is it this time? My dog, Pepper stops in her tracks, forcing me to
break my stride as we run through the Crum Woods. It's the first week of classes, all the students are back, programs are starting up, and I am sooooo busy! I have to hurry up! Finish my run! Run into the shower! Run to campus! Run through my day! Do things! See people! Go places! Other places than this!

But Pepper is insistent. She sits, bracing herself, paws planted in the leaves, refusing to move forward. Grumpily, I stop and wait. What is it this time? Is it a fox? A deer perhaps? A chipmunk? Some such doggy distraction.

I look around. I don't see anything. Not anything worth stopping for, at least. Pepper continues to sit, not even sniffing, just looking at me with her wise doggy eyes. Then she looks up at the sky. I look up as well. She looks at a tree. So do I. She looks at the creek. Ditto. She looks down at the earth. I look down too. Then she looks at me, again, with what appears to be a significant expression. And finally, revelation dawns. I get it.

She is looking at nothing in particular -and everything. She wants me to do the same. Is it a coincidence that dog is God spelled backwards? I don't think so. When I get lost in my busyness and silly self-importance, it is my dog who is so often the divine messenger. She is my spiritual director; the one who gets my attention so God's word can finally permeate the over-busy brain.

Maybe you have a dog. Maybe you don't. No matter. God can find a messenger for any busy life. A dog - a friend - a stranger even. Pulling backward on the leash. Forcing you to stop your busy forward motion. Urging you to look around. What will you see? Nothing. Everything. The face of God. Stop - and look.