Monday, December 8, 2008

And the Darkness Overcomes It Not: Advent Meditation

Steve and I have returned, after a trip of almost two weeks. A good trip for Steve, since some of his hard work raising funds for medical research met with success on this trip.

But home: for me, the biggest hurdle of traveling is being separated from our dogs, Flora, Crispen, and Valentine. Flora is the mother, a Pembroke Welsh corgi. Crispen and Valentine are her pups, half-breeds whose father may be a rat terrier or perhaps a basenji.

Flora was found with seven pups living under a trailer north of Little Rock two summers back. She had escaped from or been put out of a puppy mill, and appears to have given birth to at least two litters in her short and vexed life. She’s tiny, even for a corgi. It’s almost unimaginable that she could have given birth to two litters of pups.

When a rescue agency found her with her seven newly born pups July before last, she had dug a hole in the ground for them, since the weather was exceedingly hot, and had pulled a board across the hole to protect them. She was in dire health by the time she was rescued, with advanced heartworm infection and teeth falling out due to malnutrition.

At the time we adopted Cris and Val, Flora was headed for another home. Fortunately, those arrangements fell through and we were able to keep her, too. The three are adorable together. They do all their business as a noisy little pack—guarding the perimeter of the back yard, demanding to be let outside when the corgis behind us bark, sleeping between us at night in pack-ordained positions that never vary.

They bring me such joy, these three canine companions. Coming home is coming home to them, to their bright smiles and sweet soft dog kisses.

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I’ve blogged before about how airports and airplanes are purgatorial for me. Not the least part of the purgatory is the experience of being thrown cheek by jowl beside folks whose every last word you have no choice except to hear. It’s as if you are sitting on their laps, sometimes, being spoonfed one inanity after another, until you are chock full of inanities with no place to go but down.

Yesterday, as I tried desperately to drown out the noise by napping on the plane, a sudden booming voice behind me. A hunter, talking to the man behind me, who was evidently a hunter as well:

“Seen several big bucks yesterday. Seen all the horns shed around the cabin. Just not the genetics out there that used to be there. All too small.”

Over and over: “Just not the genetics out there that used to be.” Puny bears, trifling deer, depleted stocks of elk: senectudo mundi, with all the things men love to kill for sport finally resisting their fate. Just not the genetics out there that used to be . . . .

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And what a glorious sunrise today. From the time the skies took fire until now, a whole hour of flaming roses, followed by ashes of roses, and now a thin wedge of purest gold along the horizon, underneath the dove-gray clouds. A thin wedge of hope intruding into the day, into this new week, bringing advent one small leap closer . . . .