mysterium tremendum et fascinas
Not long ago I was invited to dog-sit and house-sit for my friends while they traveled. Great dog, great house, great neighborhood. It took us a minute, the white lab and me, to figure out the new arrangements. During my two and a half weeks, there were three activities that always worked for the two of us, no matter what. The first was meals. The girl loved her breakfast and dinner. She was a little goofy about it. The second place that worked for us was the bench on the front porch. Turns, my big-boned friend sees herself as a lap dog. So, if I sat down on anything but a straight-backed chair, she (oh, so subtly) plopped herself in my lap. And soon after the plopping would come the BIG SIGH. Her sighing let me know that she had settled in and we would be sitting for a while. The third place was walking around the neighborhood in the mornings and at nights. Sometimes in the dark, sometimes in the rain. My friend, Ada was a walker.
The last Sunday I spent on this sleep-over, we were walking in the pre-dawn. It had rained over the night and the air felt misty. Typically, when we walked, Ada demonstrated her strong feelings about the surrounding landscape, by pulling me hither and dither and yon. That Sunday morning, she and I shared an easy pace and we pretty much stuck to the middle of the street. We were walking up the last big hill, and just like every horse I’ve ever ridden, I was heading to the barn. I was just starting to kick it in, lengthened my stride and book it up the hill when my companion stopped. This meant that I, too threw on the brakes. Then she sat down. There in the middle of the street, she just sat down. She was facing forward as she sat, but she casually looked over her shoulder and my eyes followed. And a little bit down the hill, I saw a mama and two teenage deer crossing the street. [For Atlanta you folks, we were in a neighborhood between LaVista and Clairmont. NOT out in the woods.]
The moment seemed to stand still. Ada and I watched as the three appeared to take their time crossing the street and making their way on. I have no idea if they were aware of us. I have no idea where they were going. I knew that if Ada hadn’t stopped us both, I would have missed that moment. It was amazing to me that she was so calm. Truth-be-told this might have been the most peaceful moment we shared during my whole time with her. She and I just watched them cross. After they had gone, we both were quiet for a bit. And with a little encouraging, we headed up the rest of the hill and back home.
Mysteries come. Unexpected more often than not. Some are more of a direct message than this one feels. I am still wondering about what this could have meant. What I’m holding on to today is how calm Ada was and (I believe) how she wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss the moment. It was the only time that she sat down when we were walking. She didn’t seem anxious or even playful. It felt, instead that she was marking a holy moment and invited me to share in it. "Good girl, Ada. Good girl. And thank you."