Friday, June 20, 2008

Dog God

Jesus told stories to get his point across -- which works well, in the vast configuration of things, because that puts stories everywhere: you have a story, I have a story, the earth has a story, God has the big story, and then there is Jesus' story, which is the saddest story ever told.

Stories are necessitated by time; because there is time, a story has a beginning, a middle and an end, as a song does, as a life does. Stories are how we pass the time. We watch other peoples' stories, and when we get bored with those, we go watch somebody else's story somewhere else. And occasionally it becomes necessary to revisit our own personal story, because when you're on the inside of a story looking out, you don't see the boundaries or the parameters of your own story; you lack the perspective to identify the theme, the thesis of your own story, if it is pathetic, tragic or funny, or ironic. So you go and share your story with a therapist or a counselor to do talk therapy, which has organic benefits. And anyone who says otherwise is a dang fool.

Spirituality, if it's going to be any good and any fun, needs limits, but sometimes it needs to be let loose to run around. A pup can't grow properly if he is not given the freedom to stretch his legs and run outside the box. My daughter's neurotic little dog Harley, which she couldn't keep at college anymore, has happily taught me that lesson over and over, and I'm proud that I got to be a part of it. Because without me, my beloved daughter's awesome 15-pound Jack Russell-sized Chihuahua, who is built like a deer, and runs and jumps like one, would still be pissing on himself and liking it in the little cage she had to keep him in.

"Daddy, I need to get rid of Harley," my daughter said, after emailing pictures to us of Harley. He was the cutest college flunkie, the best little dog a person could ever want, sent back down to the farm. "Can you take him?" Now Courtney has brought home a lot of dogs, and all of them have been crappy. We're not mean to them, or haven't been; we feed them and pet them, and we're down to an old Chow/Lab mix that Courtney brought home about eleven years ago, and then there's Harley. It was my personal pleasure to pick Harley up in Knoxville in that little kennel cage Courtney kept him in, and where she rather strictly forced him to stay during car trips, and all but punt the cage down the hill. He came out, timidly, shaking, uncertain. But he hasn't seen the inside of that cage in almost two years. He digs and chases squirrels, and greets the kids walking home from school, and runs when there's and electrical storm, and hides, and finds cubby holes on his own, and snuggles in, and he eats the meat I eat, and, I swear, this little dog saved my life. My other dog's life, too. And about two or three other people I can think of.

All the best dog stories are God stories. And, if these are the so-called Days of Noah as some people have said, our concepts of spirituality are going to get a lot of exercise, I do believe. Ghosts and goblins. Zombies. People who are torn up bad enough to be dead ... but can't die for the life of them. Weird animals, half breeds, and not just different breeds of dogs with other dogs, but combining one type or species of animal with another one. And, sadly and grotesquely, horribly, humans, presumably with souls, have been introduced to living life as half animal, I do believe. When the earth cracks open, I believe we're going to see them, some of us, along with the ghosts, goblins and zombies, and the devil knows what else. I predict one day, perhaps not in the very near future, the people who have been slamming Jesus ... are going to be begging and pleading for him to please not tary but come now.

Dogs didn't evolve, just like people didn't evolve, and here's why -- 'cause if you're upset on account you're a good candidate for some visits by the Zombie Family. Nonsense, you say. God doesn't know me, he won't hold me accountable, he doesn't know me that precisely. Have you ever known anyone to have a scrape with death to the point where their life flashes before them, and every person they have ever encountered, flashes, almost instantaneously, but you know that that was all of them. That sounds pretty precise to me. We're going to be judged on how we have treated all of those people in our data banks. I think you'd have to include animals, pets, especially cats and dogs. The message of loyalty and unconditional love a good dog will bring into your life, will change it for the better. It'll help you to see the ratio which exists between man and God, I believe. It won't be exact. But the gulf between man and dogs, who can be sweeter and more loving than any old wife, is pretty close, I think, to the gulf which exists between dogs and men, boys, girls, women. And I'll take the rest of this piece to explain why I say that, and, of course, use Harles, whom I nicknamed Chewy, for some obvious reasons, will be occupying the spotlight. Choo choo ... you're up, pal!

Lest I start grossing myself out with this silly analogy, I need to say something about dogs which is more profound than puppies getting their exercise.

I don't believe dogs evolved. They're too naturally good -- like Christmas is naturally good, even though Constantine stuck it in the winter 'cause the devil told him to. The story of Christmas is so beautiful, it doesn't matter what season it falls in. It is a story, within a story, within a story, and on and on, ad infinitum. But at the very heart of the Christmas story is the poignant center, the core, the engine that makes everything else go, the seed, the kernel, the essence of God's message of love to us. And like a sunflower seed in the center of a sunflower, the seeds expand out to petals, and the sunflower seeds fall, or they fly. And the cycles continue, and the earth and all which lives in it keeps rehealing and recycling itself. If you want good health, ask God to allow your body to keep healing itself as it naturally does. And leave it at that.

I don't believe dogs evolved, because they have always been with man, and they have always been the companions of men. In their present form.