I drive a couple of times a month for the local animal shelter, ferrying cats and dogs to vet appointments. Last Tuesday, my SUV was full almost to overflowing with five animals. Four were in small kennels; the fifth, a large hound mix puppy named Xenia, was in a big crate.

Usually, the pups or kitties are quiet. But today, Xenia was not happy at all. Yes, she had the biggest kennel and plenty of room, while another dog was a bit cramped in one of the small carriers for the short trip to the doctor, since no other kennels were available. Xenia began howling and whining before we even left the parking lot and kept it up the whole way. (The cramped dog didn’t make a sound.) No soothing words would calm or comfort her. She faced forward, looking at me, the whole time. What the dog wanted—affection—wasn’t being provided. She was cooped up and couldn’t get to me to be petted and loved on.

Xenia’s story is a parable. It reminded me that no matter how big their houses are, some folks won’t be, and can’t be, happy. That’s because their spirits are not being nourished. They want more than anything to be loved and cared for, and no matter how many square feet they live in or what kind of car they drive or how much is in the bank account, they are emotionally deprived. Material things simply cannot provide what the soul needs to flourish.

Fortunately, all the animals I drove earlier this week were adopted. Xenia’s new mom put her in the car as soon as we arrived back at the shelter that afternoon. What a great feeling to know these homeless cats and dogs would that evening be cuddling with someone and would know love.

Now if that could just be true of all the lonely, hurting people and the empty, longing souls out there.

© 2013 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.