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  • Writer's pictureDan FitzPatrick

Transcendent Matters

Logan and I have a new friend. His name is Kilian, and he is a year-old Yellow Labrador. Kilian lives nearby with his male human in a big red brick house next to an even larger stone building where his human works (that must be very convenient for him). This human must be very important, because Kilian tells us that many people come to that stone building every day, and sometimes multiple times in the same day, to hear him speak and tell stories; sometimes they even sing to him. Most of the time he dresses all in black, with a small white patch at the front of the neck of his shirt.

You would think that with all that he would be very serious and somber, but he definitely is not. When he and Kilian come to visit us, he is always upbeat and smiling. He and our eldest human family member love to laugh and tell stories about the times they spent together at some place called “koll-edge.”

I can’t quite figure out what the purpose of that koll-edge place was, but based on the stories they tell, they both seem to have enjoyed it very much!

Speaking of which, Logan and I really enjoy our visits with Kilian. He is big and goofy and playful and full of energy. He also tells us stories about what he has learned and experienced in his time with his black-uniformed human. Apparently, Kilian’s human works for someone called God, who Kilian has never met (there is another nice man in black called “the bishop” who visits occasionally and who Kilian’s human reports to, but the big boss appears to be this God person).

God must be very, very old, because Kilian’s human tells stories about him in the big stone building every day and Kilian has yet to hear one repeated (Kilian says he overheard another one of the men-in black say that it takes four full years of storytelling before the stories repeat). In fact, Kilian says that God always existed and will live forever (forever being a pretty big claim from a dog who has only been alive for about a year). According to Kilian, God made everything in the world all by himself. Kilian insists that he did not make any of this up, and that he has heard these statements made so many times by so many different people that they must be true.

I asked Kilian how God got to be the big boss. Was he chosen by the humans in the process they call an “election,” which my humans seem to always be so upset about? Or was it like that singing context on the television where you start with a lot of contestants and narrow it down to one winner? Is there a process by which God could get voted out of office? Are there term limits? Is it a problem that no one has actually seen him?

Kilian replied that he did not know, but based on everything he had learned, none of that was applicable. What he understood (and he acknowledged that he was relatively new to all this) was that God existed before the world was made (in fact he had made it) and would continue to exist after everything passed away. When we questioned that, he asked that we remember that he was just the messenger, passing on what he had heard, and that he was perfectly happy just being a dog and serving as a companion to his human. We all then agreed to change the topic.

A few days later, Logan and I were sitting in the middle of our yard, enjoying the sunshine and the gentle breeze that made all of the new leaves on the trees move and dance. It was a moment of pure peace and joy. Everything was good with the world.

I asked Logan what he thought of Kilian’s report? Did he think that this God person existed, and had created everything?

Logan was quiet for some time. Then he said, “It is very difficult to believe in something you cannot see, or hear, or touch, or smell or taste. But sometimes you can infer the existence of a thing by observing its effects. Years ago, our eldest male human was explaining to one of the younger humans why a ball thrown up into the air falls to the ground. He said it was because of something called “gravity” that always pulls down on everything. You can’t see, hear, touch, taste, or smell gravity, but it definitely exists. You and I experience it every day, especially when our humans throw a ball for us.”

“I have no idea whether God exists. But look around you for a minute. Isn’t this wonderful? The trees and flowers have come back to life again. The grass is growing, the birds are flying and chirping (yes, that can get annoying, but it is what they do). And even our male human’s garden is starting to show signs that it was not a complete waste of time. There is something in common in all this, a spirit or force or something that differentiates the active, moving, growing, changing things in life – like us – from inanimate objects like rocks.”

“It has been my experience that life begets life. It’s like an invisible gift, an animating spirit. When that spirit is gone, all that is left is the inanimate, but by then the cycle of rebirth has already begun. I don’t know where that spirit initially came from, but it had to come from somewhere, or possibly from someone. Kilian’s human’s God is as likely a source as anything else I could ever come up with.”

I let that sink in for a minute, then asked Logan what he thought of some of the other things Kilian had told us about this God person, ideas like forgiving other who had done something to hurt or offend you. Logan said, “While that may be a very difficult thing to do, it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? After all, why should we waste our time and life energy worrying or being upset about something that happened in the past? We can’t change the past, but we can change how we face the future. It seems to me to be a wholly sensible – and healthy – way to live.”

“So now, Cadbury, if you don’t mind, let’s put aside this weighty discussion and just sit here in the moment enjoying everything around us that we clearly did not make but which exists to make us happy.”

“And maybe, just maybe, we will give some thought to whether and when we should forgive the cats for being cats.”

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