And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)
We were at our friends’ house, sitting on the deck and talking the typical way of old timers. One of our ilk commented that we should get a picture of the boy and the dog. It fell to me, though I wouldn’t have noticed the scene if left to my own devices. I somehow managed to capture a scene that has grown in my mind to encompass all of my conscious thought.
The scene is simple. It’s near sundown, but they’re not watching the sunset. The boy is maybe 8 and is sitting on the rim of a hill looking out over the field. Trees and creek wait beyond the soy beans. The dog is sitting next to him, mimicking boy and looking over their empire. We can only see their backs. It’s unremarkable except that in that one pure moment boy and dog are united with all of creation. The photograph freezes them in time, forever absorbing the warm summer breeze and the fading light. It’s unremarkable except that it’s pure and timelessly innocent.
I envy the boy and the dog alike. I think back over the decades to when I was a boy on a summer evening. I was the boy of a mixed breed called Rascal Jack. We must have sat just like this duo. There was creek and woods then, too. The field was probably growing corn, but it was still the same. Rascal Jack and I sat and watched. I imagined Daniel Boone was scouting the tree line, on the trail of the Shawnee. Jack saw him too and sat with me watching the old explorer following our creek.
When the air was cold and felt like snow, we’d watch White Fang working the tree line or see Buck leading the team and the Inuit sled, forever on the trail. Mostly we’d have just sat and been one with creation, like the pair today.
There was no work of any kind. We had no government or law or rules. We were one, not really a boy and a dog. We were perhaps a boy-dog or a dog-boy, a new creature melded with the sky and the wind and the land. We just were.
Here in the sunset of my life I long for one of those simple and pure moments that belong only to the child and the dog and the sky and wind. My scars and thoughts and intents make me an outsider. It’s like I’m looking through a window. I’m in a tumultuous place that chills the heart and pains the body. Through the window I can see heaven, where the boy and dog forever reside. They are unaware of the place I live; they only exist in the pure innocence of creation.
Maybe when I pass on to the next world Rascal Jack will be waiting for me. He went ahead long ago, but maybe he knows I’ll be there in just a moment. We’ll get to sit and watch the trees and the creek. Eternity spent just being in that moment would be paradise indeed.