Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who Has Known the Mind of the Corgi, and Who Has Been Her Counselor?

Scripture asks, "Who has known the mind of the Lord, and who has been his counselor?" (Isaiah 40:13, echoed in Romans 11:34).  And it also wonders who can understand the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9).  

I, for one, certainly have no special window into the inner workings of either the mind of God or the heart of any human being including myself--though it appears that the U.S. Catholic bishops do still enjoy privileged insight into God's mind, the Deity being, I suppose, more like them than anyone else in the world.  Which is to say, male, mostly white, and heterosexual (well, heterosexual, wink, wink).  And therefore choosing to reveal Himself in a uniquely perspicuous way to those most akin to Him in the world, whom He has uniquely designated to proclaim His message and decipher His mysteries for the rest of us.  For the rest of us, who lack the good fortune of their excellencies to live cheek by jowl with the Divine Mind, and who must therefore rely on them for understanding what is hidden to us lesser beings and mere mortals . . . .  

No, I must confess that I understand neither God's mind nor the mysteries of any human heart.  Nor do I expect to attain anywhere near complete understanding of either until, mayhap, I one day find myself sub specie aeternitatis.

For the nonce and this side of eternity's gates, I'd gladly settle for a glimpse, any glimpse at all, into the inner workings of the mind of the corgi.  A creature who, to my way of thinking, proves far more mysterious with its unfathomable fancies and preoccupations on any given day than any human creature I've ever met . . . . And perhaps more mysterious than the Deity Himself, since He has, after all, in His infinite wisdom and mercy chosen to appoint a group of men like unto Himself to decode His messages to us less enlightened and less godlike persons, and to lock Divine Truth safe in that wonderful repository called the fidei depositum, to which only they have the key, and into and out of which only they can deposit and the withdraw the Truth.  

The corgi, meanwhile: the corgi concerns herself with the depositum humi, with the earth and all that grows therefrom.  The corgi, you understand, having been designed to fathom the earth, as a cobby and short-legged little creature built right down to the ground.  That is to say, a cobby and short-legged little being built and designed for digging.  And so dig the corgi does.  Dig and dig again.  Day in.  Day out.  A never-finished task, the source of endless corgi delight, because the ground happens to be there all over again--joy heaped on joy!--each morning that you let the corgi out to survey her terrain anew.

Follow behind her, fill one freshly dug hole, and she won't cease her busy little job one whit.  She'll simply move on with equal relish to the next hole to be dug, since there is evidently a rule written in the rule book provided to no corgi owners but stored safely in the brain of every corgi ever born that Holes Must Be Dug.  Daily.  Again and over again.  

And said holes must always be as wide and as deep as the corgi's little body--as much dirt as any corgi worth her keep can displace and heave away in a good hour's time, serving no apparent purpose at all except just to be there, an outward and visible sign of the corgi's inward and spiritual determination to work away at the work she has assigned herself for yet another busy day.

Because work is what corgis are all about.  They're bred to be working dogs on sheep farms, after all, bred to be busy bossing flocks around, nipping at heels, barking commands, and when necessary, hurling their sturdy little personages right against the body of a recalcitrant ruminant who refuses to hear its canine overlord's command.  Work and work again: that's the corgi rule of thumb, and the rule doesn't disappear simply because the corgi has been transported to a shady, peaceful city garden devoid of sheep and far from the working origins of the corgi race.

Herding work then becomes digging work.  Dig and dig again.  The rhythm--work and work again, dig and dig again--varies not one iota from day to day.  Dig when it's hot and dry, and let the dust fly.  Dig when it's damp and drear and coat one's paws with black sludge.  Dig and be happy.  Dig and make the Master happy, since you've succeeded in showing Him yet another day that you work to earn your keep.

And how can Master possibly fail to be happy with your morning's work, with the endless succession of holes--one, two, three, four, five, rain or shine, January or July--when you yourself are so deliriously happy with your accomplishment?  With your accomplishment that's there for all the world to see, since who can possibly miss the beautiful big ankle-twisting pocked places scattered so ingeniously all across the yard?  And who can fail to see the huge piles of dirt that announce their presence every place you've dug today?  Corgi happy, Master happy.

And that's just one of the mysteries of the corgi mind I'd gladly have anyone with a sharper head than my own unravel for me: how can corgi be happy when Master is so obviously unhappy with those glorious mounds of soil, those finely crafted gaping new holes in the ground?  What does corgi imagine she's doing for Master's benefit, when Master imagines he's communicating plainly, with each new hole he fills in each new day, "Bad dog!  No digging!"  (And, "Damn, damn, damn!")

Corgi's mind and Master's mind appear to be worlds apart.  And more than a little at odds.

And so riddle me this: what's in the mind of the happy digging corgi, who hears Master's complaints, observes Master fill in her newly minted holes, looks chastened for a tiny moment--and then returns happily and oh so energetically to her work the moment Master's back is turned?  And what is the blasted digging all about?

Do our three little monsters, one a full-blood corgi, the other her half-blood sons, truly imagine we'd be silly enough to bury treats for them all over the yard?  That there's a land of milkbone honey just beneath the lovely lawn and lying at the foot of the beautiful shrubs whose roots positively require soil about them to stay alive?  

Do corgis know something we humans don't know?  Is there buried treasure down there of which Steve and I are unaware?  Is China truly just another busy paw-scrabbling morning away?  Could they, left to their own devices, possibly dig right through the world and come out the other side?

Which of these fantasies energizes the happy, ceaseless, never-finished digging?  Or do all of them alike form the backdrop to the never-ending work?

I'll freely grant, I don't know the mind of the Lord, and I can't decipher the mysteries of the human heart.  I don't expect to know either--not with the clarity of my episcopal betters, for darned sure.

But for my money, there's no mystery in the world more intricate than the corgi mind.  Who has known the mind of the corgi, and who has been her counselor?  Show me the person who has reached the bottom of that unfathomable well of mystery, and I'll stand in awe.

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