Dear friends: In the last few months, Joseph Anthony, author of TheWonderChildBlog, has became a treasured new internet friend. Joseph is a gifted writer, blogger, teacher, musician, husband and father whose enormous courage has transformed a difficult past of abuse and addiction into a creative outpouring which celebrates psychological healing and spiritual living. You may have seen his thoughtful comments here and know he published one of my posts, Dragon Lady: Shadow of the Queen, on his own blog.
Joseph and I enjoyed our collaboration so much that we’re doing it again. Today I’m sharing a story he wrote that was inspired by my last post, Another Dog Story. Joseph dedicated his story to me, and I’m dedicating this post to my son, Matt, who raised our golden retriever, Bear, from a puppy and was his primary owner until the last two years of our beloved friend’s life. Enjoy.
The child walked through the fields of light looking for his dog. He hadn’t seen it in what seemed like forever. He began to cry, brushing the tops of the radiant grass as he walked, when suddenly he heard the soft beating of wings and an angel alighted at his side. For a long time they said nothing. She walked with her hands cupped at her belly, looking straight ahead. He swiped a stick around them as they went.
“I miss him,” the boy said.
“He was your daemon,” she said.
“But I thought daemons never left you. That’s what the other angels said.”
“They don’t leave you. But they’re spirits, just like you and me, and so sometimes – well, sometimes when the unexpected happens, they get lost, just like us.”
“The boy was quiet a moment. He knew what she meant by unexpected, for here he was walking the illuminated fields of heaven with an angel. “So Bear’s lost?” He asked.
“In a manner of speaking. But he’s looking for you. And he’ll find you, you can count on that. He’s a clever dog.”
“Do I have to just wait for him to find me? Couldn’t I look for him too?”
“Of course,” said the angel. “In fact, your love for him acts as a beacon. Through the hazy distances of memory and through the corridors of his love for you – he will find you. He will come.”
The angel placed her hand around his shoulder and pulled him closer.”Keep calling him,” she said. “He’s listening. And keep being you – for it is when you are being yourself that your daemon is most attracted to you.”
“Do you suppose he’s upset that I left him?” asked the boy, his voice catching in his throat.
“You must stop thinking about it like that,” the angel answered. “You didn’t leave him. You made a choice. After the accident, when the Great Light asked if you wanted to remain here, you said yes, that’s all.”
“But I should have never said yes. I was being selfish.”
“Selfish?” said the angel in a voice much louder than usual. “So you had the opportunity to stay here, away from the sickness that surrounded your home back there. And you call that selfish?”
“He’s there though. I left him there and you know how daddy treated him.”
“Your daddy is a different man after the accident. Your choice to stay here has changed him. His heart broke in just the perfect way as to let the Light in. He will never mistreat anyone or anything again. He is a new creation. And if you would have gone back, he would still be steeped in his disease, so no more talk of selfish.”
“But what about mother?” said the boy.
“You don’t think she’s been born again watching your father be born again? You don’t think she’s a better person too? Your choice to stay here has changed them both. There’s hope for them now. They are helping thousands of families with their project. Many, many lives will be saved as a result of their choice to build upon your choice.”
“OK, OK,” so I’m not selfish. I still want Bear.”
“Of course,” said the angel.
“I won’t stop calling for him until he finds me,” said the boy.
“Or you find him,” said the angel.
“I’ll keep praying too,” said the boy.
“You are praying,” she said. “With every step and tear and word you are praying; by just being you – living the way you are living here in this world of Light and Use – you are praying. Don’t ever worry about not praying. Everything you do is a prayer, Dear Brave Heart.” And with that there was a rustling of unfurling wings and she was gone.
He stood in the river of white, shining grass and started calling for Bear. He walked all day in bright field calling, calling. Then the angels began singing. He spun around. When the angels sing that song – the welcoming song – there is a new arrival. The last time he heard it his great Aunt Ivy appeared. He began running towards the sound, for when heaven rejoices at a homecoming, the sound is indescribably wonderful. As he ran he forgot about Bear and instead thought about how happy whoever it was would be to have returned home to their dearest love.
When he reached the center of heaven he stopped. He shook his head. He was stunned. The hosts of heaven, the Great Light, and every soul from every part of the celestial world had gathered around something sitting in their midst. It was a black and white shaggy dog.
“Bear!” He shouted. And at the sound of his name, Bear took off running – fairly galloping over the snowy white grass, and he leapt into the boy’s embrace. The boy held Bear, weeping on his neck. Bear panted happily, licking the boy’s face with big, sloppy kisses. His angel appeared before them. She smiled, still singing.
“I didn’t know they did that for animals too,” laughed the boy with his arms still around Bear.
“All souls,” she said. “We sing for all souls.”
“When will I start singing like that?” He asked.
“Now,” she said. “Now that Bear’s with you, you are complete.”
And that’s when he felt his shoulder blades painlessly change their shape. They extended out and up and back, and a certain, splendid heaviness sprouted in two directions. He had wings. He opened and closed them as he stood, keeping his hand on Bear’s head. He smiled at Bear and at the angel, and began laughing.
Kneeling by the side of the road, the police officer put his hand on the side of the big dog’s bleeding head. “He’s gone,” he said. “There was nothing you could do. Don’t blame yourself. It’s dark. Hard to see.”
“He just jumped in the middle of the road,” the teenage girl said, sniffling. “I didn’t see him until it was too late.”
“I understand,” said the policeman. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes,” she said, looking up at the stars. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” asked the policeman.
“Singing,” she said. “I hear singing.”