“It must be spring.”
The birds are singing. The crocuses are blooming. The squirrels are friskily playing in my daughter’s fairy garden… Oh, Wait! That’s not playing. They’re practically setting up a house of ill-repute in our backyard.
Great, just what we need, more little baby squirrels looking for ways to get into our
Animals, no matter how cute, are messy. They dig where they shouldn’t, leave fur and feathers and all kinds of debris behind them, chew on stuff (like wires, ahem), and taunt my dog (who is clearly more person than animal). They represent the natural world, where things do not go according to plan and chaos seems imminent; a natural world from which modern society has created distance.
Disney solved this by hiring bunches of employees to sweep up after nature and by anthropomorphizing animals. Our food chain contains more cello wrap and Styrofoam than animal product. There are multitudes of sites whose whole purpose is to convince us to rid ourselves of spiders, moles, mice, and pigeons while others show us how to create elaborate indoor homes for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and snakes.
I dream of someday living in Italy for a year. I picture myself picking olives and learning how to make olive oil to pour over the fresh heirloom tomatoes grown in my own orto, garden. But nowhere in that vision do I see myself picking spiders out of my hair after shaking the olives from the tree; nor fighting with slugs intent on eating my tomatoes. In my idealized version of Italy the dirt of the natural world is contained to the ground, and not on my
At 10,000 feet I imagine the messiness of the world blurs into perfection. Time allows me to see that the cycle of life might look chaotic but is actually an amazing choreography of interconnected dependencies. So while my first instinct is to call the squirrel whisperer from blog posts past (link), as I stare out at the squirrels making a little love nest, I know my only choice is acceptance.
“It’s good karma.”
It was kind of the firefighters to stand in the rain with me while I waited for a public service person (aka police officer) to arrive and take care of the dog I had found wandering, lost, cold, and limping along a neighborhood road. Given the fact that the dog was also blind and had what was obviously a tumor on her stomach and hind leg, it was no wonder she looked worn out and sad.
The firefighters hung out with me and my daughter for at least half an hour, until eventually the police officer came to claim the dog. After slowly walking her up and down the road and offering the dog reassurances for that time I found it difficult to see the police car door shut, with her confused once again inside.
“It will be okay,”I told her, all the while knowing that, without a collar and looking so sick, chances were good they would not find an owner and she would be euthanized. In fact, as my daughter and I prepared to get in the car and leave, the officer asked if I would like to be notified before they euthanized. I shook my head hesitantly, sadly, guiltily.
Of course it only took a moment for my daughter to ask what euthanize meant. Most Catholics do not believe that animals have souls. And so, they would not go to heaven. This is one doctrine, though, about which I am not sure. Of all God’s creatures animals seem the most holy to me sometimes. Certainly this dog did, as she limped along maintaining her dignity even as I think she sensed her own death. Perhaps she had faith, as I explained to my daughter, that she would soon be in a better place.
I am not sure what that place looks like, either for myself or for that dog. It may be as W. Bruce Cameron fictionalizes in his book, A DOG’S PURPOSE, that she will come back again, to live another new life as a dog. Or perhaps, like the animals in C.S. Lewis’ NARNIA series, she will pass over to a better place.
Wherever she lands I hope that her body was at least able to sense what her eyes could not see, that for even a brief time she was loved, by three firefighters, an eight year old, and me.
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