Lest Gravity Touch the Ground
Once again the seasons have turned; the days are colder and the daylight shorter. Almost all the leaves have fallen and it won't be long until the ground is covered with the white, wet, fluffy blanket of substance the humans call "snow." All is as it long has been, and should be.
Logan and I are back out in our yard, watching with some amusement as the squirrels race to store up acorns for the winter. There don't appear to be as many acorns this season as last, which was quite an unusual one. Logan has experienced this a few times in his life. He says it has a lot to do with the weather before the trees begin to flower.
I confess I am a bit worried about Logan. Our humans have noted that he will soon reach the age of fourteen of their years. His eyes are cloudy now, and I think he is getting a little hard of hearing (which may explain why he barks so frequently and loudly now!). His back legs are stiff when he gets up in the morning, but our humans give him something for that and he never, ever complains. When he wants to -- for example when a truck drives by our yard -- he can run like the wind!
And his mind is as sharp as ever. He is my teacher and mentor, and while I have learned a lot from him, there is still so very much I want to understand about this world.
I've asked him about the seasons, and he has explained them to me in the context of cycles, changes, and inevitability. Like the stars in the sky, they are and always will be a part of life. As is the strange unseeable force the humans call "gravity," which gently pulls all things everywhere towards the earth at our feet. That, Logan says, is what causes the leaves to fall downwards when it is their time to yield to the changing of the seasons.
I asked him what happens to us when the time comes for our individual seasons to end. He laughed. Actually, he made the sort of laughing sound that the humans call a "chuckle." "Whatever put that idea or concern in your head?"
"Well," I replied, "it seems to be a really big concern for the humans. They talk about it a lot, and they tend to gather together weekly in big stone buildings like the one where our Yellow Labrador friend Kilian's human who dresses all in black works, just to talk about it some more. They talk about a place called "heaven," which sounds like a really terrific place, but they seem to be constantly worried about whether they will ever get there. I mean, they spend a whole lot of time on the topic. What is that all about?"
Ah, yes," said Logan, stretching and looking at me with his most professorial expression, "now, that is a story."
"It seems that very, very long ago, a couple of humans made a very big mistake. They did something they absolutely knew they shouldn’t do but did it anyway. That one single act lost them, and all of humankind after them, automatic entry into the place or state of existence they call heaven. Many years later, a man was born (right about this time of year in fact) who showed them a path, a way of living their lives, that could put things right and give them a good chance to get into heaven if that is what they wanted. Ever since then, humans have tried, not always or universally and with varying degrees of success, to follow that path. That, if you recall, is what Kilian's human talks about every week to all those people who gather in the big stone building next to his house."
"What about us," I asked, "do dogs go to heaven?"
"Now that's a fascinating question," said Logan. "According to Kilian, the humans have spent many years trying to figure that out. But the funny thing is, they are so focused on their own situation that, as they like to say, they keep 'missing the forest for the trees.'"
"It was the humans who made the big mistake, not the animals. They are the ones who have to deal with the consequences and make the effort. They each have to do it for themselves, individually. We can't help them other than to be here for them as they try to work it out."
"But will we be with them again once they get there?" I asked.
"I firmly believe so," answered Logan, "if for no reason other than it simply wouldn’t be heaven for our humans without us there right beside them!"