Dogs and God and Joy

REPOSTED. Because I miss my dog, who taught me so much.

This is the kind of day where you stumble out of bed, put the coffee together, and make a soft-boiled egg for the sick dog, who should now be trying food. You make one for yourself, too. The dog watches you create her egg-and-bread, then turns up her nose at it, once you place it before her.

As you prepare your own egg, letting the lovely hot yolk drip over a piece of crumbled rye bread, you gently try to coax the pooch into eating, “you must get strong,” you say. “I can’t give you your medicine in yummy pill pockets unless you eat…”

You dip your spoon into your own breakfast, and it tastes good. The dog is watching your every move, because she is a dog, and she is very attentive. You say, “okay, I’m going to take a bite, and you take a bite…”

And she still doesn’t eat.

This depresses you. You cannot enjoy your egg while the dog is sick, but you suspect that maybe–out of mere habit–if the dog has an opportunity to eat your food, she’ll go for it.

So you put your soft-egg-and-bread mess into her bowl.

And she tentatively eats your egg, and your bread, and leaves her own untouched.

Because she loves you so much that she would rather share what is yours than have her own. Or something.

Then you get a little moist-eyed because once again your dog has shown you something mysterious and vital which must be pondered. She’d rather have communion than singularity.

That’s love. It’s also pretty good theology. I must work on that lifelong urge to be singular.

You forget about eating breakfast, and give the dog her medicine. Fresh water goes untouched.

Then you go to get a cup of coffee, so your day can begin and you find…you never turned on the pot.

When you finally do get coffee, you come into your office, click on the email and turn your attention to work. The dog lays at your feet with a thud, because she is still weak; her back legs are giving out. You open your email to the rhythmic thwacking of her tail against the desk.

The first three emails are expressing hate for your religion, your political affiliation and your stupid family and stupid life. You are surprised that none of them end in, “and your little dog, too!”

You look down at the dog, who looks back lovingly, seeming almost to smile.

And you feel nothing but gratitude, for the dog, and for your life, and for the ability to raise a cup of coffee to your lips unaided, and the ability to walk to the kitchen to get another.

It’s the sort of day when giving thanks opens a route to joy, which speeds along God’s glory.

Joy can take us far.

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About Elizabeth Scalia