Twenty-one hundred pennies.
That’s how much Middle Son needed to buy the baby guinea pig at the pet store.
So Middle Son, determined animal-lover that he is, scoured his room and pilfered from his brothers and culled through junk drawers, presenting me with a couple of bulging, gallon-sized bags full of copper. We took it all to the bank, and the bank teller said she was way too busy to count it all herself. She set us up at a table in the bank lobby, where we sat for a good while stuffing paper rolls full of coins . . . and hope.
When we were finished counting, my son had twenty-one hundred pennies.
To the penny.
If that wasn’t a sign from God that I had to buy that darn tennis-ball-sized mound of fur, I don’t know what was.
So we crossed the street to the pet store and brought him home.
Middle Son named him Pogo.
Pogo purred when we picked him up. He squealed with glee when time we came in the room. He sat on our tummies when we watched TV. And his chocolate chip black eyes blinked at us with adoration.
For four years, we loved Pogo.
And he loved us.
So when Pogo died on Saturday, I cried all morning. We all did. I placed his soft, limp body in a shoebox, on top of fresh bedding. Middle Son found a homemade, matching hemp bracelet and necklace, tucked the necklace next to Pogo, and tied the bracelet around his ankle.
As I dug a hole, Middle Son brought his guitar outside and sat on the picnic table. “I’ll play Ode to Joy while you read, Mama,” he said. (It was either that or Iron Man, the only two songs he knows. I blame his guitar teacher.)
The whole family stood around the grave site as Middle Son plucked a somber rendition of the tune, and I read Psalm 104 (which, incidentally, talks about a guinea pig-like creature in verse 18).
Before we buried Pogo, Middle Son wrote and tucked a page-long letter in the box beside him, which I wasn’t allowed to read, but I imagine said something about how Pogo was his best buddy in the whole wide world, and how they will be friends forever, and how much he’ll miss him, but he’ll see him again someday in Heaven.
Friends are hard to lose.
No matter how small.
And sometimes the smallest friends are the most faithful.
Which is why, as a grown adult typing this days later, I’m still weeping. I remember the guinea pig I had as a little girl. Somehow feeling the fur between my fingers and holding my hand to his tiny, rapidly beating chest unveiled the flutter of my own heart . . . and the flutter of My Maker’s as He reassured me, “I am here. I made this creature. I care for him. And I care for you.”
When the hearts of humans dissapoint us, betray us, and cause us pain, God’s creatures assure us of His unconditional, unwavering faithfulness.
Because like the Bible says, faith starts as a mustard seed.
If it grows as big as a guinea pig, you’re doing pretty good.
And if you have enough to fill a bag full of pennies, you’re doing great.
No wonder psalmists sang so often of all of God’s creatures.
No wonder God made them every size, shape and color.
In lieu of the unfaithfulness of humanity, God’s faithfulness blinks at us . . .
. . . adoringly . . .
. . . through the eyes of even His smallest . . .
. . . furriest . . .
How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small.
These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.
~Psalm 104: 24-25, 27-30~