Thursday, December 15, 2022
Sometimes our best friends and teachers come on four legs.
Our dog, Sammy is one such friend. He is growing older. Lori adopted him when he was about 3 or so, and she’s not sure exactly how old this multi-faceted (read: mutt) is. Consensus puts him somewhere in his 13th year. And he seems fine with that. He’s seems to be fine with whatever / whoever is around him at the time. He’s fine with whatever is being served for breakfast and dinner – he would suggest (often with great enthusiasm and tail-wagging) that meals be served earlier and earlier - and perhaps with bigger servings. Sammy is fine with going on a walk around the block every morning. He is fine with smelling (and often watering) every blade of grass along the way. Sammy is just an easy-going-guy in the world.
And as I am spending my first year with him, he is becoming a kind and gracious teacher, more a rabbi than a pet. He is one hopeful creature. Sammy has a positive and even encouraging countenance. You can just tell that about him. He has a way of looking at you or at the door or his dinnerplate, with eyes filled with hope. Sammy seems to understand that he can’t control all that is in his life. He can’t put his leash on himself and head outside for a walk. He can’t reach the counter to pour himself dogfood. So, Sammy seems to spend much of his day hoping. There is grace and gentleness in that. And in that gentleness, there is this remarkable, buoyant, sometimes contagious optimism for the next amazing thing to happen.
Hope takes on a preciousness when it is more particular than broad. Like a beam from a lighthouse, hope can point us to what needs to happen next. Not in a way that demands anything really, instead hope nudges and then guides us to the next good thing. Sammy seems to be remarkably gifted with trusting. He appears to be so generous with forgiving. This sweet, kind soul is much like a guru in letting go of being disappointed. If something doesn’t happen or something doesn’t go right, he’ll often shake his whole body, have a big stretch that ends with a big sigh, and then moves on to what’s next.
Hope is hard to pair with other words. Sister nouns just aren’t the same, they just can’t be substituted as easily. Wished for isn’t the same. Dreamed of? Nope, not the same. Envisioned? No, hope carries story and beyondness in it. Many creatures “get” that. Many creatures aren’t as wedded to the outcome as we humans seem to be. Sammy’s hope is rooted in his love for his human companions and something else. There is a freedom of his spirit, there is a delight in his living, there is an openness to all that is next that I yearn to learn.
And as I finish typing, there’s sweet Sam, lying on his dog bed under my feet, wagging his tail, looking perfectly content. Hmmmm, I wonder what he’s hoping for now???