It has been comforting to receive consoling messages from friends on Ben's passing. From those who knew him, "sweet boy," was most commonly used to describe his personality. Above all else, Ben loved people. I have been wondering this past week about his fierce unconditional love and how dogs in general are often ascribed as possessing this grace. Did God forget to give dogs an ego or was it an intentional omission designed to teach us how to love in kind?
Ben makes a cameo appearance in the second last paragraph of my memoir, "God Never Hurries." It reads: "I have a new walking partner now. His name is Ben. A Yellow Lab--Peter Pan-like. He'll never grow up. But he is the incarnation of joy." Bear, who died when Ben was a pesky puppy, played a major role in my life and memoir as I struggled with my aging parents' care needs. My description of Bear reads, "He was a beautiful black Shepherd-Husky mix. Wolf-like. He loved our walks and me." Lydia, a Beagle-Cocker mix with long silky black ears so comforting to stroke, preceded Bear and has a mention in my memoir too, "For most of her nearly 17 years we took a walk every evening. It was a joyful ritual that allowed for reflection on the day and time to regroup for the next." Looking back I now see how Lydia, Bear and Ben came into my life at the right time to help me walk with deeper psychological and spiritual discovery. And now they wait for me.
The following is from a winter walk to the beach with Bear:
"With the waning afternoon sun the high bluff had already shaded the beach. Its coldness did not beckon. I climbed to an icy ridge at the valley's mouth and lay on my stomach to look into a crevice where I could hear chunky water rush to and fro. When I looked out from this prone position, I could see the low angled sunlight shine through dense, light green waves. Just before their whitecaps broke, I felt each wave's power. Bear came and stood over me looking into the noisy crevice. He gave me his puzzled look. He doesn't get my fascinations and I wondered if it was because he is more naturally one with his surroundings. But he licked my cheek anyway. Then my happy face and Bear walked back through the silent valley."
What if we could each find courage, comfort and strength waiting for us outside our door where the mystery of God waits for us in nature?