Sitting outside in the cold at the Bear Creek Camp Sanctuary during a two-hour plus run with Opie and Molly, the Opster bounded up and gave me a torrent of sloppy, warm kisses which, as always made me laugh and filled my heart with joy.
Dogs are; it seems to me, slightly smelly perfection. Their joy in life, their innate goodness, their almost scary capacity to love always makes me marvel.
And if there were a god, wouldn’t it have been sensible enough to look on the puppies and say, yes, I have created my finest work….and not go on to create the mess that is mankind. Seems like a no brainer to me.
I don’t know how to reconcile my bleak, random view of existence with the presence of a creature who is to me, pure beauty, total innocence, a rebuttal of all my negative beliefs.
For me, Opie is a miracle, inexplicable and total. His joy in life, the radiance of purity that emanates from him, his sheer sweetness and total Opieness are an ineffable gift that I do not understand, but fully treasure.
He is everything that, essentially, I don’t believe in.
But the fact is that he is here and is beauty, grace and pure happiness incarnate.
Belief in an uncaring universe and the presence of a miracle with fur??? I can’t explain it either.
This question of explaining the beauty of the world co-existing with the most awful evil has been bedeviling me my entire life.
And it’s the central question of Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” the single work that has been the most influential in my life.
“Cruelty is a mystery, and the waste of pain,” she writes. ‘’But if we describe a word to compass these things, a world that is a long, brute game, then we bump against another mystery: the inrush of power and delight, the canary that sings on the skull.”
That mystery of why both cruelty and beauty exist hand in glove is — to steal from Winston Churchill –“a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
We can only ponder, and wonder and watch the show.
“Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them,” Dillard wrote. “The least we can do is try to be there.”
So I do. I sit with Opie on the couch and he does his simple doggie things that I see as joy incarnate on four paws. He is a magical mystery pup, and I can’t explain or understand it. But as Norman Maclean said in “A River Runs Through It,” “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.”
Soon I’ll be going to the great perhaps without having figured out this eternal riddle. I know how little I know. But this I do know; Opie, I love you.