Every morning when I walk to class, I see stray dogs. It may seem ridiculous, but I often feel close to tears as I watch these dogs. Perhaps it reminds me of my own orphaned dog at home. (Ok, Gordy is probably living a cushier existence than me with my parents…) But something moves deep within me with compassion. It makes me so sad that these dogs are alone as they look up at me with their sad faces.
But what stirs my heart even more is as I walk around our campus and see so many faces…and I wonder how many of the students feel completely and utterly alone. This week in class as I talked about my family and friends, one of my students raised her hand and asked, “Miss Anna, are you lonely sometimes?” I was a little caught off guard by the question, but I answered honestly, “yes, sometimes I am.” My class seemed a little taken aback by my response. I wondered if I’d said too much. I wondered if I’d said too little. Because living in a country of 1.3 billion people, it’s amazing how alone one person can feel—how lonely I can feel at times.
Yet even in my darkest moments, I can rest assured that I’m not alone. Mother Teresa once said, “I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody to no one.” And while at first that seems like such a depressing thought, there is so much hope in it. Because there is no one who is unloved, uncared for, or unwanted, but there are many people who are unaware. They don’t know that there is always the one who loves each person. And we can bring that hope to someone who may not realize that she is beautiful, that he is more than enough, that there is someone who loves them not for what they can do or accomplish.
This week as I walked to class past the normal stray dogs, I noticed something different. Instead of there being just one or two by themselves, they were all walking together, playing and scavenging for food (and a few of them may have been trying to impregnate others…Bob Barker probably needs to do a tour here), and this time I almost felt happy tears come to my eyes. Among these stray dogs, they had formed community. And I was reminded that if even among these dogs they could form this community, how much more the creator can work among his children to create community—to bring love, hope and joy to lonely hearts—and what a privilege it is to be part of that story. Because even in those moments where I may feel lonely, I know I never walk alone.