No need to hurry, no need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.
- Virginia Woolf
My three-year-old Boston Terrier/Bull Terrier is on the bed behind me, chewing on a rope that I got her at Petco last week, on my birthday. Gigi is mostly black with patches of white on her chest and up her face in the space between her eyes. She is looking at me now. I think she is displeased. It’s almost 8:30, and 8:30 is the outside hour, or half-hour, or however much time we’ve got to go up the street and see squirrels and houses and other dogs here in Highland District. She wants to go smell other poop, I guess.
I didn’t plan ahead, to get Gigi. It kind of just happened. She came from a fellow over on Fairfield, he’s a friend of my boss’s who likes to save animals off the street. Before I took her home, he’d had Gigi a year and when he first found her, she was pregnant. Her tits are still swollen. It makes it hard to rub her belly.
“Seven puppies and they’re all in good homes across Shreveport,” he said to me.
“Oh yeah?” I said. I nodded. “That’s good.” I pictured them all still as puppies, but by now they’re probably grown. I realized how her motherhood made Gigi different from me. I could now be called her “momma." But that wouldn't be quite right.
I would find our own ways to connect.
She likes people, but she’s scared of big dogs--and especially their barks. She likes to jump up, though we’re working on that, and when we meet other dog-lovers she’ll jump to hug them and then, in a moment, she’s on the ground, rolled over with those swollen nipples making it tough, again, to scratch her. I don’t think she realizes. (Am I being awkward? It’s her life).
I can leave her at home all day, alone in the house while I’m at work—her kennel sitting unused here beside my desk—but when I come home she is wild with excitement, she jumps and races around so much so that I can hardly put a hand on her back to try and calm her. But why do I want to? She’s excited to see me! Me. I am grateful.
I got Gigi because my boss is a quick-moving man, and the moment I said, “Do you know how much I want a dog?” he responded instantly with, “You want a dog? I can get you a dog.”
So now I don’t quite know what I’ve gotten myself into, but for all the unknown expenses I am sure I will have, I’m grateful for her companionship, the greeting at the door (though not the tens of scratches, the proof of her rough-love), and I’m grateful for the way she turns to me when she’s heard me crying—because yes, that has happened too—and she stares at me a moment then licks at my cheeks until I’m laughing, and puts a paw across my arm until I quiet myself in thankfulness for having her in that moment.
I imagine that if I turned to God like that, if I acknowledged his presence on such a regular basis, I might get a similar response. Or, for now: Gigi is his physical representation; she’s an image-bearer in some sense, or an action-bearer. Oh, to do that on a human level.
Love has so many forms. I think God made it that way for a reason. We all need it differently, respond to love differently. We are all so intricately different. And: that's a good thing.
I realized that I missed writing a blog post last week! Agh! I’m off of my 52-week posting plan! Well, it’s Gigi’s fault.
In any case, I did complete two books, Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen (which I mentioned in my last post), and Letters to a Young Writer, by Colum McCann. (The Virginia Woolf quote from above is taken from his chapter entitled “A Secret Hearing,” page 127).
Also, I began reading Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven-Storey Mountain, which describes his childhood in the U.S. and France up to his eventual move to a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. I’m only on page 75 of Mountain, but I’m enjoying it immensely and would love to include you in the little book club I’ve started with a couple of family members and a friend. Let me know if you’d like to be included on the email list! Here’s a short segment from the book, one I quite resonate with:
There were stained glass windows up behind the altar, one had an anchor in it, for its design, which interested me because I wanted to go to sea, and travel all over the world. Strange interpretation of a religious symbol ordinarily taken to signify stability in Hope: the theological virtue of Hope, dependence on God. To me it suggested just the opposite. Travel, adventure, the wide sea, and unlimited possibilities of human heroism, with myself as the hero. (14).
Was good to be with you again, friends! Until next week. Happy living, happy reading, be at peace.