Beyond the Bridge
In my mind’s eye, I saw a little metal dog. I think it was a garden sculpture because it was made out of wrought iron that had been painted rainbow colors. It was shaped kind of like a beagle, small, perky, very positive. And it had a fuzzy tail, which it wagged very quickly.
The dog said to me, “Do you want to go under the bridge to see where the boardwalk leads?” (I forgot to mention that I was a dog, too.)
My heart filled with fear. I said, “I don't know where the the boardwalk leads.”
The dog said, “I don't either, but I think it would be fun to find out. Want to come?”
I nodded, and she began to run ahead of me. But then she got out of sight. Again, my heart filled with fear.
God said, “Hurry up, run faster and catch her.”
I started to trot a little faster. There were a lot of other dogs trotting down the boardwalk under the bridge.
I said, “I still can't see her!”
God said, “It doesn't look like you're running as fast as you can. These other dogs are trotting about the same speed as you.”
So I ran as fast as I could, but I couldn't find her. She was still out of sight. I started to cry.
God said, “Well, you'll have to turn into a bird and fly.”
So then I became a seagull, or kind of a small seagull, like a cross between a dove and a seagull. And I flew and soared under the bridge, and then I was able to see her. She had stopped and was standing on the boardwalk, looking up at me. I sailed down and alighted on a little metal plate on her back. I think that she must have been a plant stand.
I said, “I thought you had left me behind.”
She said, “I would never leave you behind.”
I said, “Never, ever?”
She said “No, never. I would never leave you behind.”
I said to God, “Is this you? You know, like ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.”
He said, “No, she is your heart.”
The dog said, “Do you want to keep going and find out what is beyond the bridge?”
I felt afraid. “What if we get separated?”
The dog said, “Why would we get separated?”
I said, “What if I fly too far above you, and then I can't see you.”
The dog said, “I will always be right down here on the boardwalk, looking up at you.”
I said, “What if somebody steals you, thinking you're a garden sculpture?”
The dog said, “I would run away from them. Besides, if I ended up in someone's garden, you would come and find a way to get me out. Seagulls are very smart.”
I said, “What if somebody shoots me?”
The dog looked at me skeptically, “Who shoots seagulls anymore? Or doves, for that matter?”
I said, “What if I get tired?”
The dog said, “You can come and ride on my back. I will always be here for you.”
I said, “Can I just ride on your back the whole way?”
The dog said, “You can, but I think there are some things you can see from up there that you can't see from down here. You'll have more fun if you see from the sky.”
I said, “What if we get hungry?”
The dog said, “I am a wrought iron dog. I do not get hungry.”
I said, “What about me?”
The dog said, “Seagulls are very good at finding food. You can eat out of the trash if necessary.”
Then I realized I had thought of no good reasons that we should not go together to see what was beyond the bridge. All of my fears amounted to exactly nothing. All I had was the feeling of dread in my chest.
“Why am I so afraid?” I asked.
The dog said, “This is the big mystery of your life, Robin. Why is everything so hard for you. Why are you always so afraid. Your heart is always with you. You have nothing to be afraid of.”
“But what if I don't have love?” I said. “I don't think I could live without love.”
The little dog said, “You generate your own love. You are never without love because you always have me, your heart.”
So I flew up from the little dog's back and soared in lazy circles over the Willamette River. When I looked down, she was there, looking up at me. Together we went off to see what was on the other side of the bridge.