My dog Allie was the runt of her mother's litter. She was the "last one out" so to speak: and by c-section at that. She was and is the smallest of the litter, weighing in at about 70 pounds right now, whilst her oldest brother Gus is 140 pounds (!!). It is hard to remember these beautiful and quite large creatures could fit in the palm of your hand a mere 18 months ago.
Allie's mom is Frieda. This was her first litter and yet she knew, instinctively, what to do: how to guard them, protect them, clean them, feed them, nurture them, scold them (occasionally). I remember one time when there were a number of people at the rectory visiting with the very young puppies, which Frieda tolerated generously and very well, when the last person had left the kennel area where the puppies were corralled, Frieda went over and checked on each one. She almost appeared to be counting them, which she probably was. This motherly instinct was extremely touching to witness.
Frieda's care for her pups came to mind at the end of today's Gospel reading from Matthew. Jesus is continuing his harangue of the pharisees and scribes and predicts the destruction of Jerusalem today. But he ends with How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! We need to pay attention to the harangue that comes before this statement, yet this verse is a beautiful image of God's love and care for us. We see and hear about this image of God quite frequently in Scripture (a mother caring for her children, etc) and we are reminded today that we have to want to be under that wing: it is our choice. As hard as Jesus' words are today, there is this olive branch extended to us, reminding us of God's unwavering love for us: all we need do is waddle under the protective cover of that wing, and all will be well. Not what we expect or necessarily want, but it will be well.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.