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  • Veranita Alvord, Pastor

Perfect Love Casts Out...Coyotes?


On the morning of August 4, I was out for a walk with Nico, our Yorkie Pip Squeak dog. Joe had told me a few days before that a coyote had been sighted along the greenway near our house. I have seen pictures of the damage that occasional coyotes inflict on unsuspecting dogs and their owners out for walks. Awful! However, I didn't pay Joe any attention, knowing full well that Nico has the potential to be a scrumptious coyote snack. As Nico and I were making our way toward the end of the greenway, I just happened to look back and saw it...a coyote! I had a cold shiver down my spine and a deep awareness of ominous death. We watched the coyote for a brief pause, as long as it stared at us from a safe distance. It bounded off into the woods.


Five hours later, I would receive three calls from my Sister (I ignored them, we were in Staff Meeting), one from my Mom (she never calls, I wondered what was going on) and one call on the answering machine at church, over which our Staff could hear Joe saying, "Veranita, I really need you to give me a call, something's happened to your Dad." August 4 is the day my Dad had a massive stroke. My Sister, Mom & Joe were calling to let me know. Now, almost two months have passed since that day and I'm remembering that I saw a coyote that fateful morning. Hmm. Wonder what that encounter means, if anything?


Looking up the meaning, sacred signs, totem symbol, spirit animal information, coyote sightings can mean a lot! In Native American spirituality, coyotes are tricksters, they are adaptable, intelligent and wise. Years ago, I read Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes' book Women Who Run with the Wolves and know that the wolf is an opening to the wild woman archetype in Jungian psychology. I did read one article that suggested seeing a coyote on the path before you means opening a new chapter of life. Perhaps seeing one behind you means closing a chapter of life. This is particularly poignant in retrospect, as my Dad died a week later, on August 11. Either way, the coyote is a powerful symbol of something...life, death, change, danger, stealth. I've settled that Nico and I had an encounter with wild, untamed power. I also like to think that the morning of August 4, the Spirit visited us disguised as that coyote- strong, quiet, steathy. Perhaps that coyote was a sign of Dad's quiet, adaptable strength, his playfulness and that something about him was about to be wild, untamed and powerful in a way we can never fully understand until we get there.


The verse I had been saying to myself that morning is from 1 John 4:17-19, "Love has been perfected (made complete) among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as God is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect (mature, complete) love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection (completion, maturity) in love. We love because God first loved us."


I'm not quite sure if mature, complete, love can actually cast out coyotes if a coyote wants you for breakfast. However, I do know that God's love and the Spirit of that coyote over the last two months has provided me with a conviction that "basic holiness pervades all things" (Galatians 5:22-23 The Msg), even and especially the death of my Dad.


Grace and Peace,


Veranita

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