We live next door to West Hills Friends, and some of you may remember our dog Sam. He was a black retriever mix, with a heart as big as can be and a playful spirit. My husband called him “the best damn dog in the world.” And he was!
On Sunday mornings, when children were playing outside in the playground, Sam would drop his tennis ball in the dug out space under the wooden fence that separates our property from the playground. One of the children would talk to him, pick up the ball and throw it over the fence. Sam would retrieve it, drop it in the hole, and someone would pick it up and throw it again, over and over. The children loved this game and so did Sam. This game went on for years.
When Sam got sick, the children made get well cards for him in Sunday School, and we posted them on his crate.
One late Sunday morning, a member from West Hills knocked on our door. Sam was a little better and greeted her at the door. She said, "Is this the dog we just prayed about?" I looked dumbfounded. Who was this stranger coming to my door saying she had prayed for my dog? I’d never heard of such a thing!
I welcomed her in, and as we talked, I realized we held many beliefs in common.
Slowly, cautiously, one Sunday I made my way to West Hills Friends. I was amazed at what I heard (so different from my upbringing), such uplifting music, how welcoming and authentic people were, and how comfortable I felt here. People actually laughed during the service and others besides the pastor got up and talked. It felt revolutionary and freeing for me.
So, here I am, an irregular attender, but I feel at home here, like I never have in another church.