My favorite means of communication is face to face, and without a mask. When I interact with folks, I prefer to use as many of the senses as possible. Facial expressions, especially smiles; tone of voice, preferably a pleasant tone; a touch, handshake, pat on the arm, even a fist bump (not a punch in the nose); a pleasing smell — all of these can help us connect with other humans.
Those who are unable to see, hear, speak, smell, feel or taste learn to compensate. Sitting in Starbucks in B.C. (Before Covid) days, we observed a young lady with her laptop computer — on Facetime or some such social medium — conversing in sign language. It was absolutely fascinating. Helen Keller overcame being blind and deaf to become a pioneer in helping others overcome similar limitations.
Our pets learn to share what’s on their minds in totally different ways; but they do let us know…Tail wagging, barking, licking, body language and sad eyes are ways our Boxer expresses herself to us. And don’t think for a minute that dogs are not able to understand certain words. Sophie often tries to ignore some commands, such as “Come” or “Go to bed” or “Settle down,” but she knows the meaning of those words.
Stacia has two Boxers. Morgan is a hundred years old — dog years — and Nellie is deaf. Nellie knows some sign language and is a pretty good communicator. Not long ago, Stacia was in Bristol with Nellie, and Morgan was in Florida with Michael. As the humans conversed virtually, Morgan showed little, or zero, interest. Then Stacia addressed the fur baby in the tones reserved for pet talk and Mike held the phone so that Morgan could see Stacia on the screen.
Through experience, I have learned that pets don’t pay much attention to screens of any kind — social distancing or not. There are exceptions, such as when Sophie watched church with us one time, and the dogs I heard about that get upset when they don’t get to watch their favorite program. Stacia’s experience with Morgan was exceptional.
After staring at her mommy’s image for several seconds, Morgan began profusely licking the screen. She recognized Stacia. The obvious meaning of her actions through dog language was, “I love you and I miss you very much. Here’s a virtual kiss!”
Somehow, with a pandemic and all the problems of 2020, we have been forced to find new ways to communicate. We have been to church and attended meetings by way of the internet. Certainly it is not the same, but we have communicated.
As humans we need conversation, social interaction. It is important to express feelings of appreciation, encouragement, and love to others. Hearing those same feelings expressed toward us, whether by sound, sight or touch, is also extremely important. All of us, human and many animals, just need that.
Even more importantly, we need to communicate with our Heavenly Father. We have a great need to express our thoughts and feelings to Him. We can share our needs and concerns through prayer. Communion with God also gives us the privilege to worship and express our love to Him.
But prayer is a two-way street. God guides us when we are willing to listen, to trust and obey. Problem is, sometimes like my dog, we try to ignore His commands and His gifts. I must confess...I do, sometimes.
My challenge, to all of us, is that we spend more time communicating with the Father.
One last thought...when we tell Sophie that Reagan, her litter mate, or Stephen, our son, is coming, she gets excited and heads for the front door. In comparison, when someone says God is near or Jesus is coming, how do we respond?
Steve Playl, firstname.lastname@example.org.