In the book, Peaceful Neighbor, the author eloquently described how some people get so wrapped up in consumerism and materialism, the trappings of life, that they lose what is real. He is of course referring to a quote by Roy Rogers who made the TV show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood famous in the 80’s. Rogers’ overwhelming desire was to help children realize that deep and simple are more important than shallow and complicated and fancy.
As promised in the February post, I want to introduce you to Tucker. Three days before the start of summer camp programs, in the middle of a pandemic, I received a phone call from Tucker. She is a dear lady with a heart of gold, and a dog handler with four trained pups of her own. She is associated with Invisible Pawprints, a wonderful organization that trains therapy dogs to provide hope to children and folks in hospital.
Tucker had learned of our LHCC ministry and was calling to inquire about bringing the pups and their dog handlers to our program to interact with our campers. My first reaction was “it’s too late”. The host church would probably give me a hard time about bringing dogs onto the campus. Besides, I would need to request further permission and amend our contract. There simply was insufficient time before the start of camp. Tucker explained that the pups had not been out to hospitals and schools since March and needed to put their therapy training into practice. As Tucker continued our phone conversation, it dawned on me that the pups needed the excursion outlet as much as the students needed the distraction from their reading chores. Our students genuinely needed their daily reading time. The dogs surely needed reading partners. The rest is history and we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with all the handlers and their pups ever since. You see, Tucker and her volunteers, along with their cute pups of course, have faithfully returned each week of our program
It really is a beautiful partnership, and one that extends from camps last summer and continues to this day. Our church partner, St Andrews United Methodist, is also very gracious and never hesitated to welcome our new so-called readers. The pups are the catalysts that brought an 80-year young lady and her crew together with our young students.
Greg Boyle, the author of Barking at the Choir and Tattoos on the Heart, and the biggest proponent of kinship I know, made a lot of great points about what it takes to reach kinship relationships. Fostering trusted relationships are what we seek. They are what Father Boyle refers to as the hallway to the ballroom. The ballroom where both parties are liberated and discover relationships that may lead to kinship, sometimes in unlikely places.