Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for Travelers, Book of Common Prayer, p. 523
Elizabeth took this picture of Theo in his car seat while I was in the convenience store getting some trail mix for my train trip. For a dog who was quite afraid of me in the beginning, and who still was a little spooky about me reaching out to him, his demeanor shows a huge change. He is truly anticipating my return to the car! Now, when I got back IN the car, he was still a bit pensive about me being forward towards him, but he didn't shake or shiver or bark.
What this photo makes me realize is that there is a joyful, happy, extroverted dog in there, that all the abuse and mistreatment of his formative years didn't extinguish. I think there will be a day that who he was when Elizabeth first got him, will only be a shadow. I think there will be a time that the only time we see the "old Theo" will be when his PTSD flares up, and if it does, Elizabeth has the skills and love to support him and help him back to his happy frame of dog mind. But it will be on God's time, not ours.
I believe that all of us have been in scary places in our lives--places that make us mere shadows of ourselves. When things happen to us in families or extended family structures, sometimes there are multiple people in scary places all at once. These things take time, and we can't force them. Sometimes, our shadows are interacting with their shadows, or a healthy us is interacting with their shadow, or vice versa. Our prayer from the BCP above is a great reminder that when we are dealing with those shadow places, there's usually not much we can do with how we are to be perceived, and that we have to give up our illusions of control and trust God knows how to level things.
When I find myself in those weird places with people, it has been a big jump in my life to finally be in the place, where, mostly, I can lay it on the altar. Theo reminds me that in everyone is a "happy dog," and it just takes time, and God's help to find their own happy barks and wagging tails.