There is this dog. A dog whom I have known for less than 48 hours.
I have been trying to gather my gossamer thoughts, which shimmer and break when I touch them. And, there is this dog.
I call her Maggie, she who has never been called.
I met Maggie on Thursday, and meeting her meant meeting her story, which I could wish to have never known, because there is no unknowing this.
Maggie’s curse was her beauty, and when her owners had consumed it, she was thrown out like trash. When I met her, I confess, I was dismayed by her, filmy eyes, thinning hair, drooping breasts, with her tongue sliding out between toothless gums.
I sat with her awhile, asking if she was my dog, if I was her human. My searching for Maggie was born out of recent death, a way for me to stop the corroding toxin that has been poisoning my soul, coloring my faith, in a way that 55 years of other deaths has not.
I have been focusing all my energy on not sliding off the edge of the planet. My husband even bought me a weighted blanket, which is a wonder, as it anchors me to the bed so I don’t float away. But, it is summer here in the South, and the weight suffocates me now. So, I have put off the blanket and put on a dog.
A dog whom I have known for less than 48 hours. She pants with nerves and age and congestive heart failure, and her wounds have splintered her doggy soul.
Yesterday I took her on a 15 minute walk on our graveled country road that lasted 45 minutes. Maggie was slowed with age and confusion at the leash and disoriented with her filmy vision. She pressed near the back of my feet as we walked, bumping the back of my legs with her snout periodically to be sure I was still there, using my scent trail to guide her. And, occasionally she would stop and sniff the air or ground, and I would stop and wait with her because curiosity is so healthy, in pets and people, and I don’t want to squelch even the tiniest movement towards healing in her.
Today she shaved 15 minutes off her time and we made the journey in 30 minutes, not that speed is the goal, but her confidence is.
Last night she wagged her tail, all one inch of what is left of this former glory of hers, sacrificed on the altar of efficiency. I have never known efficiency to be the effective partner of beauty. This wagging stump set off waves of longing in me.
There has been harm in my story, as in all good stories, an enemy lurking. Sometimes we say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy,” and this season has been like that. But, I wonder who exactly we think is our enemy. In the half-light of this battlefield east of Eden I have not seen clearly that the enemy of my Enemy is my friend, and wouldn’t this thinking revolutionize how we do life with each other?
My husband recently preached a funeral sermon, building on the drama of the recent Avengers movie, reminding us of the evil Thanos, who condemns half of all living creatures to death. Half of them! Here is evil indeed. But, outside of that story, inside of The Story, we have an Enemy in whose shadow Thanos pales, is revealed as a washed out phantom, because this Enemy has condemned every living thing to death. Every one of us.
I only have to look at Maggie to see how much this Enemy hates us.
So, there is this dog whom I have known for less than 48 hours, and the first thing I did with her was take her to get her ID tag made. As the laser etched her name into the metal, I was wielding the sword of Truth, cutting apart the strands of the lie that has been the web in which she was caught, the Lie that our value is a product of our utility, that it can be measured, calculated using a formula from some Dark Math. Adopting Maggie, a 14 year old doggie, to delight in her as I walk her Home, is great foolishness in the eyes of the world, a squandering of limited resources, which surely could have been better used, those who count always counter. Yet, it is the manner in which this battle is fought, the way in which we accomplish the Slaughter of Lies*.
I call her Maggie, she who has never been called, because Margaret means Treasure, and she is not trash, as the world etched into her heart, but she is a Treasure, a reflection of her Good Creator. She has value in simply being, in reflecting His image to the world.
And, there is a strange alchemy at work here, because as I gather up the shards of Maggie’s soul, to return them along with her to the only One who makes all things whole, Humpty Dumpty’s King, I can see her beauty shimmering in each piece.
Maggie, in all her filmy-eyed, thinning haired, droopy breasted, toothless glory, is a Treasure.
Awara Fernández, Copyright@AFurtherUpAndFurtherInJourney, 2019 *the phrase, “slaughter of lies,” is from the poem “Having Decided to Stay,” by Bryana Johnson