second reading

When My Dog Came To Church

City Games, Part 3

My best friend Chris and I were late, as usual. The man who handed out the bulletins was gone, and there wasn’t much holy water left. As we entered St. Pius Church, the marble floor announced our tardy arrival: our footsteps echoed as we sheepishly made our way to one of the back pews. The next forty-five minutes would be an eternity.

The second reading had just begun. I caught the eye of a child two pews in front of me, looking for a playmate. As I twisted my face and crossed my eyes to his delight, I heard a faint sound. A sign from heaven? No, this was too familiar – like scratching on a door. The bark that followed was even more familiar. I turned to Chris. He was already whispering.

“Is that Georgie?”

I thought of my dog, running out the back door of my house and following us to church. I smiled nervously. Chris laughed. More scratching. We tried to hide in the words of Corinthians, but a second bark found us. I closed my eyes and prayed.

As we stood for the Gospel, more latecomers arrived behind us. We heard their footsteps, plus something else… the click-click-click of nails on the marble floor. Georgie was in church! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her pass our pew. She didn’t see us, thank God. And now she was headed toward the priest in the pulpit.

The woman next to us looked at Georgie in disbelief and then returned to her missalette. The priest kept reading, unaware of his newest convert. I started to rise to make the rescue, but Chris grabbed me by the arm.

“You can’t go get her!” he whispered in a panic. “You’ll look like an idiot!”

We didn’t move. Georgie was almost at the altar when an usher, in his Sunday best, retrieved her and carried her out. She was good about the whole thing. Didn’t even bark. She usually hated getting picked up.

Chris and I waited a minute before leaving, not wanting to be too obvious. When we got outside, Georgie greeted us with leaps and licks and wags of her tail. At last, we had a legitimate reason for leaving church early. Even our parents would agree.

In our book, that qualified as a miracle.

Pictured above: not Georgie (I didn’t have a photo handy from years ago), but kindred spirit Buddy, amazing woofie of the fabulous Fuller family in San Francisco.

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