Advent Day 2: The Advocate


We recently got a new puppy, Isabelle (Izzy for short), a schnauzer/westie mix that weighs just over six pounds right now, a white, wiry haired, wriggling little girl who is the size of a cat with the tendencies of a canine. When I open the utility room door in the morning, she cannons out of her space and dances on her hind legs, giddy to be out, giddy to be with me.

IMG_1564Wherever I go, she is on my heel, looking up into my face to see if she can predict what I’ll do next. I sit and she’s there by my side, then on my lap, licking the skin between my thumb and forefinger.

She’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time, even though she poops on the carpet and has peed outside just once to date. When I have to leave her I hate to leave her. I can’t wait to see her again. I can’t explain what it is exactly but I love her already; she’s a tiny package of comfort and joy.

She’s going to turn me into one of those dog sweater buying people.

I love my Izzy girl, but in a few months, the shine of a new dog will wear off and we’ll all get used to closing the kennel door and saying goodbye to the little girl. Love’s initial sharp edges will fade from vision a bit.

Her lifespan is 12-15 years. By the time she’s old and no longer a cannonball out of the crate, Henry will be driving a car. She will cease being a puppy, we’ll cease all our excitement over this creature, and then she will cease being here.

Maybe in addition to buying sweaters for my dog, I’ll be one of those people who track down a taxidermist to stuff pets after they’re dead and display them curled and lifelike by the fireside.

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

John 14:15-20

They tried to embalm Jesus, but it didn’t take. When he finally left, he didn’t actually leave. He sent back his Spirit to be a comforter, an advocate, to be with us always. With Spirit, there’s no need to preserve the shell of the thing; it can return to dust and lift on the wind, it can spread and multiply, it can fly. Love knows no skin or bone barrier, no impassable distance. If Jesus is the Son of God and God is love and Jesus died and rose again and promised the Comforter would come to be with us always, then Love abides in us and with us, always. The heat of life pulses through the Holy Spirit who wriggles, giddy and wiry, through the world, drawing us in, Love in the form of joy and peace and patience, kindness and goodness and faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Love as mercy. Love as grace.

pots-11500_640What a gift, this Emmanuel, this Holy Spirit, this eternal God With Us. How often we miss it. These small treasures around us, Izzy girl and our children and our spouses and our friends, the woods, the sunrise, the universe… they are vessels, cracked and leaking carafes of Love and accidents, abounding opportunities for the Spirit to shine and bind us together, mercy-filled, grace-filled.

The Holy Spirit is spinning its miracles, Izzy-like, filling us, joy overflowing. I want to keep living in that Light, today, tomorrow, the rest of this season and all of my life.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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