October 24, 2020
A Lesson from a Dog
by Lori Altebaumer
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. -Ecclesiastes 4:10 NKJV
The greeting my dog gives me when I come home from a trip is a picture of love. No matter how many hours I’ve spent inhabiting airports, navigating connecting flights, or stuck in traffic, her enthusiastic greeting never fails to make my heart rejoice. No matter how bad I smell or how cranky I am, she doesn’t know the meaning of “personal space,” much less “social distancing.”
I’m not a fan of social distancing either.
Shakespeare may have written “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but not so with every word in the English vocabulary.
Webster’s dictionary defines “social” as marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. Another variation is of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.
Removing ourselves from the fellowship of others is not how we were created to live. Isolation leads to loneliness, depression, suicide, addiction, and more. We are trading one disease for another—one global pandemic for another.
We need to be aware of others’ suffering and have the desire to do something about it. This is compassion, and it is the key to sustaining society.
The term “social distancing” implies the need to avoid interaction with and the companionship of others. It suggests disengaging ourselves from society. But a disengaged society soon becomes a compassionless society.
Even the most independent among us don’t want to live in a compassionless society. We all fall. Emotionally, spiritually, or physically—no one is immune to stumbling on a broken world.
When Solomon penned the book of Ecclesiastes, he purposefully included the passage above emphasizing the importance of friends. With all his wealth and wisdom, he could have hired someone to help him up, but I think he knew sometimes we fall in ways only a friend can recognize and in places only a friend can reach. God was telling us through Solomon’s pen that we need one another.
Let’s go out of our way to be social. Let’s greet everyone we meet with joy—from a safe distance if need be—remembering they are walking through these crazy times just like we are. Check on friends. Perform an act of kindness, preferably one that can’t be returned, for a stranger—or even better, someone whose views and opinions might differ from your own.
Stop looking at others as though they are the problem. Do something that says, “I see you and we’re in this together.” Be as social as possible through whatever means are available…phone, internet, or six feet apart in the grocery store parking lot.
I need to see the light of love in your eyes and feel the joy of your smile. I want to be a friend who recognizes when you are lonely, fearful, angry, or uncertain. I can do those things from a physical distance, but not a social one.
Take a lesson in love from a dog who simply wants to know I haven’t forgotten or abandoned her, and refuse the misnomer of social distancing.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. With her boots on the ground, head in the clouds, and heart in His hands, she is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart in search of life’s best adventures. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Her first novel, A Firm Place to Stand, released in January 2020. She also blogs regularly on her website www.lorialtebaumer.com. In between writing, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here.
Join the conversation: What ways have you found to keep physical distance from interfering with social interaction?