This morning, Mel and I went with two friends and scattered some of Ralph’s ashes in a field he loved. Ralph was our dog who, a few weeks ago, was hit by a train and killed.
Ralph was a huge blessing to us, bringing us a lot of joy. But he also taught me a lot. The Bible seems pretty clear that God reveals Himself and His nature through creation, so we should take time to read creation and see what it’s telling us. Ralph was a part of God’s wonderful creation, and he certainly taught me a thing or two. These are a few of the many things that Ralph taught me.
Everything is awesome!
Nothing wasn’t awesome to Ralph. Everything was his favourite thing. No matter how annoying a person might seem to other people, Ralph loved them. No matter what the weather Ralph loved being outside. No matter what was going on in the world, Ralph was excited about every new day. I won’t claim he saw each new day as a ‘gift from God’, but he certainly thought each new day was a new adventure waiting to happen. That’s something that’s worth remembering. No matter what’s going on, each day is an opportunity, a gift.
Just being there counts
Ralph couldn’t talk, obviously. Sure, we often pretended to talk on his behalf and imagined his perspective on life. But in reality, he could not talk. He couldn’t fix problems. He couldn’t really change what was going on. But in the times when things were tougher, how much of a blessing it was to have him around! Just having him there, present, as our companion made the world of difference. God is present, even if it doesn’t feel as though that changes things sometimes, and that in itself matters. But Ralph has taught me that the ‘ministry of being there’ is an important one.
I’m not naturally an outdoors person. I like my creature comforts. I like walls and warmth and sofas and kettles. But walking with Ralph, seeing him enjoy every tree, every field, every river, it was hard not to enjoy those things a little more myself. Creation is a big and beautiful and wonderful place that God has given us to look after and to enjoy. Seeing that through Ralph’s eyes has helped me start seeing it through my own.
Do what you love!
Ralph was focused. He was focused on food, on walks, on people and on dogs. He was focused on them because he loved them. They were his favourite things. Why on earth would you spend lots of energy forcing yourself to do something that you didn’t love? I know that being a human is more complicated than that – I have responsibilities he didn’t, and it’s right I invest in them. But Ralph got the very most out of life by pursuing everything he loved. God has given us passions, personalities and desires. So let’s pursue what we love!
What to do when you fall
There was a time Ralph had a HUGE thorn in his paw. It was about two inches long and was stuck in a long way. What did Ralph do? He ran around anyway! He once got pretty badly bitten by a dog. What did he do? He spent the next hour playing happily with his new best friend. He wasn’t a fan of baths. What did he do? Tolerate it and then celebrate the bath was over (mostly shaking, rolling and running), instead of being bitter about the bath. When he fell, he got straight back up again, and he moved on. What a way to live!
Don’t be a hater
This is closely linked to ‘Everything is awesome!’ above. Ralph loved everyone. There isn’t a single person he ever met that he didn’t love and want to be best friends with. Even people who I find it hard to love. The idea of rejecting a person or holding things against them was a completely foreign idea to him. Why would you when there are probably so many awesome things about them? I admired and respected that. Good boy, Ralph.
This is a prayer I wrote and that we prayed before we scattered his ashes this morning:
Thank you, God, for Ralph.
Thank you for the joy he brought us, the lessons he taught us and the time he had with us.
We feel it was far too short, but every day of our adventure with Ralph was such a blessing, and every blessing – every good thing – comes from You.
Thank you for the gift of Ralph, our furry and enthusiastic little friend and companion.
Thank you, God, for Ralph.
(Our full goodbye, written by Mel, is over on her blog. Click here.)