I believe in God when it’s only me and Lucy in our own green wood. The white tip of her tail. A kingfisher skimming the pond.
OK—and Barb and the kids and a few of our friends. Say a village.
But not all the faces blurring by on the freeway and the endless mothers jostling at the mall in their bulky parkas and the farmers coming in from the centuries to drink a cup of buttermilk, all their widows keeping lilacs on all their grassy graves—or the land and the birds and the beasts on the land, forest after forest primeval seething with snakes and bacteria for eons too glacial and cataclysmically slow even to contemplate, this one small planet whirling in the great mass of stars and the other galaxies blurring in that poster with the arrow pointing at this one tiny dot of light because that’s the only place you are and ever can be: you are here.
Where the kingfisher is gliding over the pond, and the mist is lifting, and Lucy is trotting along the shore on her four proud white paws.
If there were an earthquake and you were on the moon looking down, you wouldn’t see any movement at all. The earth would seem to just hang in space, seas a deep blue, clouds creamy white.
And it’s good to look at life like this, from a distance, because it humbles us and exalts us and it makes us aware of how fragile life is and interconnected, the way it did the astronauts, gazing homeward through their hatches.
But it’s good, too, to zoom in and keep on zooming, from high up all the way down to the very pixel you’re in, to the living room and to the couch in the living room and to the little dog sleeping on top of the back cushions of the couch, his head and his front paws draped over your shoulder in such a way that one day during Holy Week, when in the scene from the Last Supper in the gospel that morning the Beloved Disciple leans back in his love and his sadness and his grief against the chest of Our Lord, your left ear is pressed against the chest of that little dog, and you hear through the layers of his fur and the muscle and the bone the steady beating of his little doggy heart.
You sit there a long time. You hold very still.
Dear Mr. Rogers:
I should have written before, when you were still alive and I was still a boy.
I always admired how slow you were, and brave. How you never turned away.
Christmas one of our dogs died, a border collie, sweet faced. His name was Max. We buried him on the hill, and every time I walk past the little cross we put up, I ache to be with him again—not much, I admit, but every time.
Now it’s April, and wild iris are blooming by his grave, and a silence opens up the way it used to on your show when you were just being in the room. You’d be sitting in a chair, before the next thing, and you’d let the camera show your face going empty and still the way every face really is.
That’s what I admired.