We have had a fair amount of extra drama in our house this week. After about a year and a third of delay for various reasons, we adopted a dog on Sunday afternoon. Midnight is her name and she is about five years old. My husband and girls are really excited and I’m coming along. (I think I have a sense of the work that a dog requires and a healthy fear that I will become the primary caregiver for the dog. But I am excited too.) We have had a guinea pig, Bella, for six months now. She was our starter pet, in a way, to make sure that everyone would participate in the care for a pet, even the not so fun care such as cleaning a cage.

A couple of nights ago when it was late, I went in to the closed room to check on Bella and discovered her cage pulled down, the top off, and bedding spilled out. Then I looked some more and saw her lying dead on a corner of the carpet. Midnight had gotten into the room using the swing door and pulled down her cage. We think that she wanted to play with Bella (not eviscerate her, as some dogs do with live or stuffed animals) but that Bella wasn’t built to be played with in that way. I can’t tell you how much I cried that night.

I cried at her death, at the hopes we had for the dog, and in wonder of what I would say to the girls in the morning. As a parent with a pet, you prepare yourself and your children for the fact that a pet does not live forever. Each creature has its lifespan. Each creature dies. Our girls have been to a few funerals, including those for people they know well. (BTW, I strongly encourage all of you parents out there to have your children attend a funeral or memorial service of an acquaintance so that they have had some experience of a funeral before they attend one of a family member or close friend.) They know that we and all creatures are dust and to dust we shall return. But this was different – here we had one new pet, who had quickly won over our hearts, who killed (even if accidentally) our other beloved pet. What would my husband and I say? How would our girls respond?

In the morning, we told the girls what had happened. Bella was dead and that Midnight had knocked down her cage and killed her. We did not lie or cover up the truth. We answered their questions. And then we all cried and cried for a while. But this was the amazing thing to me – neither girl blamed anyone for Bella’s death. Not the dog, not one of us, not one of themselves. They recognized that Midnight was just being a dog. Yes, we wish we could have prevented it, but that this was possible. Neither girl thought about taking Midnight back to the rescue group. Their sense of forgiveness was immense, and far beyond my own.

In the Gospels, we hear Jesus telling us to be like a child and to have the faith of a child. Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (the quote is the same in both Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:16, and the “as” is better translated “like”). What I have seen this past week in my daughters is the depths of their forgiveness in response to a very difficult situation. Perhaps that that child-like faith is not just about a trusting nature or an openness to God. Perhaps it is also about our ability to forgive and not hold a grudge, to forgive and to see beyond the incident, to see the offender not through our own lens but through God’s abundantly generous eyes.