Monday, November 16, 2009

Dogs: 8-10-09

Thinking of dogs today... and how much I want one. Thinking of Booger... and all he represents. This dog... this beautiful, tall, deep black lab came to us slinking low... tail and body arched as though some invisible strings were pulling it up out of the ground... a reanimated shadow of the dog he could have been.

People had hurt him and as such, much fear filled the air between the erect hairs on the scruff of his neck and I would suspect (were I to understand him as another dog might) much hurt and anger as well. Of course I cannot know any of this for certain, but I do know that shadows of dogs and men are not made by regular meals, loving acceptance and a warm bed in the corner.

He came for the free meals he could pirate from our garage, but eventually stayed because my dad caught him and tied him to a calf-hutch with rope. Perhaps this much didn't surprise him... I doubt he expected to be consulted on the matter. But something did happen then that he did not expect. He was given regular meals, loving acceptance, and shelter.

I imagine that somewhere amid his cowering and snapping there was some form of doggy curse that would have offended if we had understood it, or at least some conversation that would have lost him our respect, but our ears, and consequently our hearts were closed to this judgment. We had no cause to think or gossip about what a dirty useless lizard this vagabond was... how long he had been thieving the food of respectable dogs, or how many pups he may have fathered illegitimately in his wanderings. We didn't look at him sideways, or try to keep children from speaking with him... because he's a dog... and dogs are known to do things like that. No surprises.

We don't want our kids to do these things: Stealing, vagabonding, sleeping around... but we have confidence that they can differentiate between how a dog acts and how they should act. Why? Who knows? Somehow though, this gap in communication and expectation practically resulted in a love toward this dog that was selfless, unconditional, blind, longsuffering, gritty and fibrous. It endured many months of struggle and rejection until the heart of the dog had been won over, transforming him into perhaps the most affectionate and loyal member of our odd family.

Love, unasked for, redeemed the heart of a lost, broken mutt... a phenomenon Christians proclaim to pursue and be specially privy to, but which most have secretly and practically given up hope in the existence of.

We can love this way. We have been told we cannot... but we can. When our expectations of others, and views of our own righteousness change... when our hearts are more honest with their own potentials/capacities, and more willing to waste love in the name of giving more of it, then we may understand Christ again... may see a love like he bore: a love that redeems mutts like us.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ok... I've not been around blogger in a long time, and I don't have much time now, so those of you who follow will get a taste of some journals this time... if you're interested in life here... it's a window.

It's quiet here... empty. I should like it, or at lest prefer it. Yes... I prefer it. Lorena brought me a muddy, half-dead Pitogue (Great Kiskadee) fledgeling this morning. It is wrapped up in my shirt in a tupperware on my desk. I'm going to let the little guy dry off. I walk to the end of my walkway: look up and down the road. Field flickers and doves are perusing the soggy sand in front of house 1o, unaware and unconcerned with the little one's plight. They are the lucky ones, I realize, sipping another drag from the guampa in my hand. I am at peace watching them, yet aching... they were lucky... that it wasn't raining, cold, and in proximity to the dog where they fledged. Yet... there is no sadness in them... They almost take life for granted. They do take life for granted. Who are they to muse over who lives and dies... whether it is just or not... They are the pawns in nature's play. Whether it is cruel or good, right or wrong. Nature is not cruel... just hard. The realization gives no additional struggle... they do not accuse. They just live. Death is not mourned, it is accepted.
I think this is missing among humans. We have protected ourselves from death somewhat by separating ourselves from nature. I think of the soggy fledgeling on my desk with another sip. I should be him. I am cold and muddy and alone. I too jumped out of my nest early in a storm... was chased by a few dogs that wanted nothing more than to feel my bones crush in their jaws. I am weak, trembling and dripping in my failures. Is it unfair? No, not really. It's just life... it's the people I landed among. The setup for failure by my ambitions and fears... He and I should both probably be dead for failure of heart and limb... And nature will continue, neither blind nor cruel.

Hope will live despite me, hopping after the rain, pulling insects from the muck... and I am noone to complain. Yet... Lorena snatched him up from the ground... didn't quite let the dog have his way... brought him to me. I will care for him. Am I screwing with nature, or am I now some unpredictable grace that is part of it? Surely nature is as full of grace as it is cruelty: breaks in the clouds to warm a cold creature... The antelope in planet earth whose pursuers (wild dogs) abandoned an inevitable kill because their kin had made a kill somewhere else... a timely rain that revives something small and herbaceous.... every fallen carcass that keeps a hagfish alive in its shadowy depths.

Pitoguei... do you and I deserve to live? Deserve to die? No, neither really... but since we are alive... let us live!

(note: a reflection on the moment, given the situation in focus... I do in a grand sense of spiritual justice before the giver and inventer of all life, in view of my direct offense to His central idea and personal investment deserve death, but I cannot compare this with the Pitogue as the gospel was written for man's situation and not that of the birds. Accept this entry as art in context, not as an absolute faith statement.)