Emma-Belle with Shiloh

Even though I consider myself to be a history buff, this article isn’t about the first large-scale battle of the American Civil War. It’s about Divine Timing. I do wonder what sort of timing was involved to result in more casualties in a single battle than all previous American wars, but that’s an article for another time and probably another venue.

My interest in visiting the subject of Divine Timing came about because of a little dog. Her name, Shiloh. A twenty-five-pound Westie that fits every single Westie characteristic to a tee. Reminds me more of a cat than a dog sometimes. I was first introduced to Shiloh the Christmas of 2015 when our next-door neighbor received her as a Christmas present from her husband. She’s been hollering at me, or “yarping”, as we like to say, from across the driveway, ever since. She gets pissed when you get on the golf cart without her. It’s hilarious. I digress.

I’m going to define Divine Timing here as what any of us would do if we had a bird’s eye view of the tapestry of our life. You see why things happen when they do—every season of life with a reason. You understand, with minute precision, why artists like Garth Brooks sing songs like, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.” Divine Timing, says, “No,” with love. It says, “Not right now,” with love. It says, “Never,” with love. It even says, “Hold up, while I get something better for you.” Even though said love is often not perceived nor cared about in the moment, it doesn’t mean love is not present. Humans want what we want and we scarcely pause for long enough to enjoy the things we’ve fervently worked and wished for before moving on to the next “gotta have.”

Our family’s search for a dog began two or three years before Shiloh’s arrival on our side of the driveway. I was raised out in the country of the Upstate with big ole country dawgs that only came inside on super-cold occasions. Other than that, they had free-reign of untold acres. They came home in the evening when they were hungry. Fripp Island is not appropriate for such an animal, not that people don’t try it. “The leash laws don’t apply to my dog. Such a good boy…” HELLO! ALLIGATORS!

In our search for a new family member, we met and spoke to, at length, a representative of the local rescue animal place. Wonderful people advocating for animals. However, on the eve of adoption, our daughter’s favorite stuffed dog, Pluto, and her “Soft Blankie” made the decision for us. The tears and stress of Emma-Belle’s worry over a rowdy dog tearing up her earliest and fondest memories sealed the deal. Pluto and “Soft Blankie” couldn’t be risked. (She’ll probably go to the University of South Carolina with these two fierce guardians of innocence.) The timing wasn’t correct. When it feels like you’re trying to force too much, back off and take stock.

Fast-forward to February of this year. After much research and discussion, E.B. (short for Emma-Belle) decided she wanted to spend her own money to buy a guinea pig. We were all excited about having something to pet and take care of. You know, everything you read and everybody you talk to regarding guinea pigs says that they don’t bite. Apparently, Piggie Smalls didn’t get the memo, cause she will go out of her way to bite you with those little incisors. Feels like an icepick. As cute as she is, she is equally aggressive. E.B. was quoted tearfully saying, “I spent all my money and she’s broken.” Bless her heart.

All the time, before and after Piggie Smalls, we never stopped talking about a dog. We even talked about cats. I’m allergic to cats, but our daughter needed something besides a bloodthirsty guinea pig and cats are low-maintenance. Perfect for Fripp.

Months pass and now we’re in September of this year. E.B. was born on 9/9/09 and her birthday candle wish, unbeknownst to us, was for a dog. Earlier that day, and several occasions before, I made the statement that Shiloh, or a Shiloh, would be perfect for us. I didn’t even know that Westies were hypo-allergenic and don’t shed.

It needs to be said that our sweet next-door neighbor, Shiloh’s mama, passed in January of this year. May she rest in peace. I can only imagine what her widower has been going through. He happened to be down from Spartanburg for a few weeks and was able to attend E.B.’s birthday celebration.

This little dog also lends to the concept of being organic. Organic conversations are the best and the most productive, aren’t they? Perhaps organic and Divine Timing go hand in hand. I feel so.

So, in an organic conversation with our neighbor we find out that he has found a new home for Shiloh. Obviously, “May we have your late wife’s dog?” isn’t something you ask, even if it would have occurred to us to ask it. He loves Shiloh, but she wasn’t fitting in with his new living situation and I am sure she provided a painful daily reminder. He wanted her to be with a little girl and he’d be able to visit her. Win-win.

And so, a little dog illustrates one can choose to make things a battle—everything hard-fought. You can force 10 gallons of s*** in a 5 gallon bucket every day of your life if you want. Or, you can trust in, and pray for Divine Timing in everything from major family decisions, like a dog, to going to the grocery store when the rest of Northern Beaufort County isn’t there.

Food for thought: Trust in God. Trust in the Angels. Trust in your Higher Self. And finally, trust yourself not to force an issue that doesn’t need to be forced. And if you don’t trust yourself? Well, pray for that fearful part of you and that that trust arises at just the right time. May there never be another Battle of Shiloh.