Jogging isn’t my idea of fun, but nearly five mornings a week, I tie a bandana around my gray head and a leash on my dog, and we hit the jogging trail.
I jog for two reasons. First, I’m a weekend warrior in the Air National Guard, so I must pass my annual fitness test next week. Second, even without the requirement, Toby will grant me no peace until after we go jogging.
Toby, or “T-Dog” as he is known around our hood, is a 26-pound, 15-month-old pound-pup of mixed ancestry who favors Benji. With the long hair of a Lhasa apso and the passion of a Jack Russell, he has the need for speed.
Today, we run along our usual route past a dozen houses and onto a creek-side trail that splits our orderly subdivision into fraternal twins. We arrive at our planned rest stop, a community lake that spills into a wetland sheltering mallards, Canada geese and egrets.
Toby and I spend about 20 minutes playing Frisbee, or at least until he drags himself under a shade tree, tongue dangling. It’s important for me to spend quality time with him, lest I become like the dyslexic chaplain who lost his faith in dog.
But it’s also important for me to have a place where I can reconnect spiritually, a place where I can talk to God. I’m here following the advice of my friend Tam, who says, in the words from her 12-step meetings, “Mark the places where you find God and go there often.”
Today, we aren’t the only ones appreciating the hallowed hint of green. A small truck arrives with a boy and his dad. The boy runs to the water’s edge with fishing tackle in tow and eyeballs the reflective surface from a duck’s view.
Opening his box, he sifts through a sea of tangled hooks to retrieve just the right size to catch the big one. He brings the hair-thin fishing line so close to his nose that his eyes cross and, with the precision of a surgeon trussing a blood vessel, he rigs his line with barbed accoutrements.
He shuffles to a spot where he recently has anchored a mental buoy over a place stocked with promise. With a bent smile of determination, he throws the line across the water like a collegiate quarterback tossing a season-ending Hail Mary pass.
He then takes a seat beside his dad in an old aluminum folding chair and waits. He expels a deep breath and he waits one more time.
Puberty is not blessed with patience, so after a 10-minute attempt, he reopens his tackle box and extends its accordion trays. He palms a lure, weighing it, all the while casing the bank for a place to cast his investment.
His eyes wander: Where are the fish?
Tam says fishing holes and dog runs like this one are “God spots, tiny in a geographic space, yet they span across time, allowing a person to re-enter that moment anytime, anywhere, just by thinking about it again.”
Sighting spirituality down the end of a fishing pole is not the hymn-singing approach I grew up with.
If a fisherman can sit on a nylon-weave pew, however, and get a hook on God’s creation by plunging his or her soul into the pristine reflection of a lakeside cathedral, I have no quarrel with that.