It’s been a rough week with too many tragedies on every level – local, national, worldwide.
And again I find it hard not to despair. I find it hard to hold on to any hope that life and peace and joy will win out in the day to day workings of the world.
Then I come home and am greeted by the embodiment of life and peace and joy. Max is with me and comforts me.
He doesn’t say anything to me or do anything for me. He is just present, and that does more for my consolation than anything else.
I tend to prefer to be alone, especially when dealing with difficult things. In fact, it was a little over a year ago when I was especially depressed and sought the solace of solitude. While there was some healing in that solitude, I found it all too easy to be sucked back into the despair that things would never get better, that joy had been defeated.
Then, while crumpled on the ground in my room, Max came barging in. He sat with me. He probably tried to sit on me too, but at least he was near. That’s all he did and somehow it began to break my tight grip on my despair. His presence did not bring me to a joyful state, but it gave me something else to hold onto.
Rather than my own self-loathing and confusion, I was able to take hold of another and to know that he is there with me, no matter what.
Rather than fix my problems (something he clearly couldn’t do, not because he is a dog, but rather because no one could), he gave me hope. He gave me assurance that whatever the situation, there are others who walk beside me, through the pain and into renewal.
I wish I wasn’t reminded of this time in my life so often, but I am ever grateful for Max’s presence at that time. And I am grateful that he taught me this important way hope is manifest in our difficult lives and tragic world.
Max taught me that healing starts with cleaning the dirt out of the wound, not with stitching it up. He taught me that hope is not a realization of fullness of joy, but rather a letting go of despair.
And Max taught me to be with others. In these tragic times my soul will not be easily or quickly repaired, but by encountering the loving presence of others it will be cleansed of the filth that infects it with despondent anguish. My soul is embraced by the presence of communal love and support and thus does not fall to pieces.
Max’s companionship gives me the strength and courage to stand and face the pain and sadness and not be pulled under by it. Max taught me that neither I nor anyone is alone in this.
So thank you Max for being a loving companion, especially in the difficult times in this life. Thank you for showing me that hope is no less than a warm, fuzzy hug.