Chapter 47- Moving On
My husband and I had retrieved the rest of my things to be moved from my home to his. There was a box of dog toys on the porch which I couldn't bear to open. We had talked about getting another dog, looking at reputable breeders, checking ads; but I didn't think I was ready, waiting for a sign perhaps.
That night as we went to sleep I dreamed of my old dog Barkley, something I’d not done in several months.
* * *
In my dream life hadn't changed; my brother and Barkley were still with me and it was just a normal day of prayer and reflection.
On the wall is a crucifix, symbol of blood and wind, strength that follows me through my day.
As I enter the building the light shines on those small testaments of ritual, those things that bring peace and beauty to what could otherwise be chaos. A drape of white cloth upon which lies a cup; a candle there, unlit for now but soon to be anointed by flame.
I know he's waiting for me so that I can unburden myself. He's probably thinking as well, it's been so long since I've been back. I wait outside the door for just a moment, taking in the tranquil quiet, the peaceful shadow.
But first I will light the candle, for me, for souls unlit. For the ones I could save and those I could not, all merging now into one sustained breath that ignites this small candle into flame. The flame swirls up unto the heavens as the stars bow and draw backwards.
In my pocket are implements forgotten. I gently finger them like beads, uttering the words that came from my mouth as I worked with them, words that strung out like coronals of roses as I disturbed another’s solemn remains, bent and bowed to my duties. Forgive me. Forgive them.
I pull those tools of my day from my pocket and lay them upon the white cloth. In the candlelight they gleam like the nicked and scuffed chain mail armor of angels.
From behind the door I hear the murmur of movement as my arrival is sensed. I stand outside, as silent as I did not long before, tongues of ash and flakes of fire raining on down, anointing the bones of men. How I wish they would stir, awakening to the fire, but they sometimes do not. I make the sign of the cross, peace to their ashes.
I open the door but it is not the door to penance and confession, not at this hour, this place. But it is a door to one that still, with heart untouched by either sin or evil, will listen to me even if he cannot speak.
He will listen as liquid words flow from weary brain, symbols that are not of a periodical but of the elements of mystery, questions asked, and reasoning answered. He will listen without asking and he will forgive without penance, though he can be stirred to almost evangelical zeal by a small nugget of biscuit.
From the distance, a church bell---a sound that does more than note one more hour, one more increment of time and grief that's ticked since Genesis. It's the sound of hope and faith, one that cleaves the air with a sharp instrument of promise as a dog joyously barks.
For it is not a man of a cloth I was unburdening myself to, but my best friend Barkley the Labrador retriever.
When he has eaten first I will go out to sit at that cloth covered table. I will take the meat, the bread, and the wine and I will pause, bent with sin but saved by grace, there as I bow my head in thanks. It is thanks not just for the company of friends and the reminder of hope but for a small furred creature who blessed me with the wag of a tail.
* * *
I awoke with tears on my face and the comfort of words in my head.
I think it is time to add another dog to this home. This time it's going to be a rescue, a dog who needs a home as much as we need him.