just be heldDriving out of the hospital parking lot this week, the song “Just Be Held” came on the radio. This song by Casting Crowns always makes me a bit misty because I think of a couple of friends in a blazing firestorm with cancer and the insidious aftereffects of their treatment.

I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.

Leaving the hospital with Ayrabelle after our 2-hour pet therapy session, I thought back to the dozens of patients, medical staff, and family members we had just greeted. Bellie instantly invoked exclamations of “Oh, my, how gorgeous. She’s so soft. She’s so fluffy.” (Of course, I joked with several admirers that they should have seen Miss Soft ‘N Fluffy an hour earlier when she ran through my backyard sprinklers and was sopping wet!)

Everyone we met—from the new mom with her hours-old baby to the elderly woman with dementia—lit up when my collie girl and I entered the room. People pulled out their cellphones and snapped pictures of her, others excitedly directed me to also stop in and see another patient down the hall. And so our afternoon went until we met a father and son alone in a family waiting room.

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart

Just be held. I’ll hold your heart.

I’ll Hold Your Heart

The 50-something father stood and greeted us as Bellie went right up to him. The teen son seemed withdrawn and exhausted but managed a weak grin when Bellie nudged her nose toward his knees.

“Did you see my daughter in room xyz?” the man blurted. “She loves dogs!”

“Uh … uh … no I didn’t,” I slowly answered, thinking that this section of the hospital was off limits because most patients in this wing were unresponsive and many hovering near death.

“Well, my daughter would love a visit. She’s sedated, but she has always just loved dogs,” the father said. “My wife is in the room and you can tell her I sent you. I’ll be in there soon.”

How can you say no to a tender-hearted dad who wants to bring joy to his ill girl? So Bellie and I talked with two nurses at the central nurse’s station and they pointed me across the hall. The mom was delighted to see us and explained how her daughter, who looked to be in her late teens, is a huge dog fan. The woman led us over to her daughter’s bed where her teen appeared fast asleep. Bellie nuzzled at the girl’s bright fuchsia fingernails and the girl shifted her head toward us, her eyes rolling back and forth, unable to focus. But she knew we were by her side. She knew a dog was touching her hand.

The World Falling Into Place

The mom and I spread out a towel on the lower side of the bed, and I hoisted Bellie up. Bellie could barely reach her nose to the girl’s hand, so I had another idea. I coaxed Bellie to just stretch out her paw and nestle it gently against the girl’s curled fingers. That image may never leave my mind and heart. A young girl unable to speak or move, sensed a connection with my furry girl.just be held paw

“Thank you, oh, thank you,” the mother repeatedly whispered in appreciation. For one brief moment the world seemed to stop wildly spinning. None of our planet’s woes, or even my own, could thud their way into that hospital room. And no words were needed.

My sweet-tempered dog was simply holding out her paw to reassure this hurting family that sometimes the strongest part of healing is when we let go and let ourselves just be held.

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
[God’s] on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held