I could have left her at home. Or put her on a leash, keeping her safe while keeping her captive. But I
love to see my dog free and happy in our lower field, wildly splashing in the creek, shaking off by my
knees, then running full throttle through the weeds and flowers.
So today I did what I always do: slipped off her red and black leash as we transitioned from the
neighborhood circle to the long gravel road leading down to the field, the creek, her freedom and my
walk. She ran ahead of me, and as I neared the field I heard excited barks, then terrified squeals of a
different nature, followed by more and more of Dinah’s barking. Panicked, I raced over washed out
gullies on the road and under low hanging prickly vines only to find my pet, my beloved family dog,
ferociously shaking a full-grown whining ground hog by the neck.
“No! Stop! Dinah, NO!” I shouted, running down the hill as fast as I could to the scene of the crime.
Dinah obediently dropped the ground hog, but it was too late, and I watched as the poor creature heaved
its last few breaths before dying there before me on the grass, mouth and eyes open. I screamed, “NO!
Dinah, NO! Bad girl! How could you DO such a thing? Bad, bad girl! We don’t KILL creatures!” Dinah
stood blinking at me, surprised, as she spat out a bite of fur from her mouth. And I put my face in my
hands and cried. I noticed the two construction workers on the distant bridge above the field had stopped
to watch this unexpected show of emotion from the woman they usually saw silently walking, or
gathering eggs, or hanging laundry on the line. I couldn’t help it though. I had to cry. I couldn’t stop,
and tears just kept on flowing down my cheeks as I walked my Bad Dog Dinah on her leash.
At first I was filled with pure seething anger, so I made her leash extra short, spurting out, “Bad girl, bad,
bad girl!” every now and then, tears still in my eyes. But soon, it started to dawn on me: we humans are just
like this. The strong ones, the big ones with teeth and big barks and long legs prey upon the short-legged,
waddling little ones who can’t get away. Why? Just because dogs can, that’s why. Dinah didn’t want to eat
the ground hog. She is well cared for, had already had her breakfast, and is in no danger of starving. The
ground hog was readily available, her doggy instincts kicked in, the chase was exhilarating, and so she killed
him. I, the figure of God in the field, was absolutely broken hearted by this senseless killing of one of “my”
creatures in “my” field by another such creature. I was tasting just a hint of what God tastes, chews on, has
grieved over every day, every night since Creation: righteous indignation, holy shock, and deep dismay over
the deaths of some of his creatures at the hands of others.
Which part of “Thou shalt not kill” do we not comprehend? How many millions of children have been
killed every year since the year I was born 42 years ago? Globally today, it’s 40 million babies per year.
That’s more than 700,000 deaths per week, 100,000 dead children per day. And here I am weeping over the
senseless death of one little ground hog! “Will you judge this city of bloodshed?” God asks Ezekiel, “Then
confront her with all her detestable practices and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You city that
brings on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst and defiles herself by making idols, you have become
guilty because of the blood you have shed and have become defiled by the idols you have made. You have
brought your days to a close, and the end of your years has come…You have forgotten me,’ declares the
Sovereign Lord. ‘I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made and at the blood you
have shed in your midst. Will your courage endure or your hands be strong in the day I deal with you? I the
Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’” (Ezekiel 22:2-4, 12-14)
We are breaking God’s heart, the heart that existed in perfect peace and harmony long before we humans
were in the picture, the heart that exhales kindness and defines goodness and beauty, the very heart that
invented life. God sees what our hands do. And he sees what our hearts do as well. We wound and stab
the spirits of one another by our hateful inner thoughts, our bitter words, our stubbornness with one another,
our arrogance, our unforgiving spirits, by our refusal to seek out and love that one who is oppressed and
wounded in body or soul. We kill one sentence at a time, one selfish choice at a time, one glare, one
indifferent toss of the head, one blind eye at a time. We talk about how loving and kind our God is, and we
are right, but we actually have no clue just how kind and patient and loving He is. Instead of punishing us—
the Dinahs of the world—he has punished his own self, his own Son. It is as if I were to go home, take my
own son by the hand, bring him down to the field, show him the ground hog that Dinah killed, and tell him
that he must die for the murder of this beast. My son—the one who loves everyone and makes me laugh,
who is gentle yet spunky and who uses his hands for making things, not destroying, who loves nature and
even sets spiders free when he finds them in the house, who snuggles with our cat and brings joy and light
and music to our home—this son must die instead of Dinah. And when this son calls out to me, “Mother,
why are you walking away from me with Dinah while I am dying here for her murderous deeds? Answer me,
look at me! Surely you still love me, Mom?” I must turn my back on him, put my hands over my ears, and
walk away from this beloved, beloved child of mine.
Because that’s what happened. On the cross, the Son whose hands knew only how to heal, who loathed
injustice, whose eyes saw everyone, who reached out to touch the untouchables, who wept with the grieving,
who ached with compassion for the unlovely, who embraced the rejected, who set devil-tormented souls free,
who was only ever angry at Pride…this Son chose to die for the Dinahs of the world, all of us Dinahs in the
world, for me, this Dinah here inside of me.
I walked and I wept, because my heart was full of repentance. “O God, forgive us. Forgive me, God,
forgive me,” I cried, and as I did, I reached down and released Dinah from the leash. She looked up at me,
and did I just imagine a remorseful look or was it really there, as she walked obediently near me for the rest
We are released, not on a leash. We are free to run, free to splash in the creek, free even to kill. But
those of us Dinahs that see the damage our murders have done, what they have cost our Father, what they
have cost his Son—we just want to stay close to that kindness, bask in the sunshine, and walk closely at his
October 1, 2015