Good Bye, Sweet Luke

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"The table is the Lord's, not the Church's; all are welcome to receive." With these words Fr. Jim would invite all present to the Communion table at St. John's in Waterbury. If you were there, you were in. We are all God's children. It was simple--as it should be.

With those words every Sunday Luke would make his way with his trusted friend Jo to the Communion rail, and he would receive the host right alongside her. Then, the two faithful friends would make their way back to their place in the front pew--and anyone and everyone who walked by them on that path to the table would greet them with warmth, affection, and the beautiful confidence of men, women, and children who knew the feelings were mutual.

Luke was Jo's service dog for many years after he had been her son Mike's service dog. Somewhere in the Service Dog Rule Book it says these companions are not pets, but Luke never read up to that page, and Jo is not one to dwell on foolish, unnecessary details. So we did the pet thing, and it was good.

Together this loving duo invited countless individuals into the church.

About five years ago, I was one of those people. At that point, I was unsure of churches, of the presumptions that package themselves as love, of the genuineness of people generally, of the exact nature of friendship. Still, at that stage, I felt an obligation to my daughter to bring her to church for her own sake, but I was going through the motions. But then there were Jo and Luke and all that warmth and fuzz and the smiles the way dogs smile and dog people who totally get what dogs can do smile. They were the heart and soul of safety, no strings attached. I was welcome to receive, and I received.

This year on Easter Sunday, I watched parishioners and visitors file past Luke. So many children pet him without asking because kids get it. One small child, already an Easter regular we never see any other time of year, gave Luke her bunny ears; he wore them and smiled. I watched one boy, a ten-year-old old soul, pet Luke and look into his eyes and see his spirit.

After the service, I watched Luke during the coffee hour celebration. People who never made eye contact and might never make contact laid hands on Luke and connected with each other as well as him in the warm, wordless way that dogs make possible. They knew the grace of God in the fur made warm by the beating heart of a beautiful being. My heart trembled as I watched God at work.

Last Saturday, Luke died in Jo's arms. He had lung cancer as well as back trouble, but he found succor in the arms of his dearest friend as he took his last breaths in this world. Our world is less without Luke. Much less.

It must be that way. We must, must, must feel this loss. Please God, let our aching hearts teach us to welcome as he welcomed, to trust as he trusted, to give as he gave, to love as he loved.

Indeed, may we love as Luke loved. Sweet Jesus, let it be. May we follow him to the table.

Fr. Jim's blog post is here.

Comments

  1. What a beautiful, moving post that brought me to tears -- how could it not if you you've ever had a dog who was such an integral part of your life? I have, I do, not as noble a one as Luke, but he is my best friend, my comfort when the world is cold, my joy all the time. Oh, that we could all love like Luke! Thanks for sharing, Sandy.

    Sylvia

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  2. What a wonderful tribute to Luke. I was very touched by this post.

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  3. A beautiful, heartwarming eulogy for a wonderful service dog who took on the world as his service. Definitely a blessing to many! Thanks for sharing so we , too, might "know" Luke the dog, everyone's friend.

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  4. Sandy, this was such a beautiful tribute to a loving friend. Creatures touch us so deeply.. they're so pure and loving. And yes, there are smiles.

    Hugs to you.

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  5. dogs live on as do the sparrows and all of God's creatures including us...

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  6. Sorry about Luke but a sweet story.

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  7. Heaven is where he is!





    Aloha from Hawaii


    Comfort Spiral

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  8. What a truly touching tribute to Luke. Thank you very much for sharing.

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  9. Beautiful and tender.
    (((hugs)))

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  10. What a beautiful story and tribute to Luke. What a fabulous purveyor of love and grace! So sorry that Luke had to go home. But we will all get a chance to meet him in the end.
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  11. If you were there, you were in. We are all God's children. It was simple--as it should be.

    it hits the heart. nice sharing sandy.

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  12. God loans us these sweet spirits - Luke and others like him - for only a brief while in order to teach us by example Unconditional Love, much as God's love is for us.

    Thank you for sharing Luke's story. It brought me to tears, but in a good way.

    Big hugs =0)

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  13. I love dogs!Nice post.Really enjoyed it.Drop by my blog.I've posted again.

    www.deepteshpoetry.blogspot.com

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  14. I will have to finish reading this later.

    Something got in my eyes. Both of them. Can't see too well now.

    Lacy is nuzzling my leg. She always helps me get things out of my eyes.

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  15. Anonymous1:23 PM

    I am touched deeply by your beautiful words....My eyes are moist for I understand the love and I "GET IT"....

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  16. Sandy,
    incredibly beautiful.
    tugged at me in all the right ways.

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  17. Sandy, I never knew Luke but I have known several wonderful pets and your post brought back that ache I felt after they closed their eyes for the last time ...

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  18. How lucky you were to know an angel. I am so sorry you lost such a good friend.

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  19. Sandy, I love that the word says, "All of the creation was reconciled.... Through the death of His Son...." Not some, not part, but ALL!

    Thanks be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!!!

    Luke is enjoying the beautiful presence of the Lord in person....

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  20. Your post brought tears to my eyes. Saying good-bye to a fur friend is never easy, especially a special one like Luke.

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  21. You write so wonderfully! It sounds like the whole church (town/world) will be less without Luke. It is amazing how the fur helps bring us all closer.

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  22. oh, I have tears in my eyes now, for a lovely story. My prayers go out to Jo at this time of sorrow.

    Gill in Canada

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  23. He was a blessed soul and he gave to this world . He did his job well and I am sure he will be rewarded well for it.It is so sad to say good bye.
    This is one thing I am not good at.
    I wish them a good trip a nice vacation and when we see each other again I want all the deatils:)

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  24. There's just no love like the love of a dog.

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  25. Goodbye, Luke. I'm sure he is in heaven in His care now...

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  26. what a lovely touching story and a great loss

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  27. What a moving post and a lovely tribute to this beautiful soul. There is no comparison when it comes to a gentle being such as Luke...no comparison when it comes to unconditional love. They just have a way to them.

    Sorry to Jo and her family for their loss and to those who were touched by Luke.

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  28. I visited an evemt where were nany dogs like Luke

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  29. It's always a sorry loss to lose a loyal and faithful companion and friend like Luke. That he shares a name that's been immortalized by a great apostle is probably an indication of his faithfulness. He will be missed.

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  30. Oh, since I am trying to catch up, I have read the last 3 entries backwards...from current going back. I hope that you can go forward somehow. There is no love as that of a loyal friend...the unconditional love of your dog.
    Peace be with you.

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