In the last year of my beloved Stella’s life, I was invited to get up and go out with her into the darkness of the Western Minnesota Prairie each and every night.
Approaching age 15, my sweet farm dog and spiritual guide could no longer hold it overnight. With great effort, she stood up on her soft bed and whined. I woke, threw back the heavy weight of down covers, swung my legs over the side of my bed on to the floor, and spoke to let her know I was with her in her circumstances.
As she moved slowly down the short hall past the the bathroom and through the kitchen, I put on boots and outerwear and grabbed her leash from the hook next to the garage door.
She was lifted down the three-stair landing onto the icy garage floor and then asked to wait while I opened the door and disrupted the nighttime activity of our prairie landscape, assessing it and then preparing it for her to do her business.
Coming from a lifetime of urban dwelling, this was moving out of my comfort zone, to say the least.
Still, out of love for Stella, I consented to it again and again.
Gradually, I learned to navigate the unknown night scape by staying in the present moment and relying on the clues dropped with divine timing from unforeseen bearers of wisdom.
I was able to anticipate the coyote that might be lurking near the door because the Cenex guy identified its scat while installing my propane tank the first month I lived there. And I knew there was a skunk under the shed because I let Stella out without her leash the very first night we lived there and she came crawling back drenched with the stench of defeat.
The piercing Day-Glo eyes of the neighbor’s black cat alerted me to another peril. Stella would not move once detected.
And so it was.
We entered the darkness together, not knowing, and yet somehow learning to trust we would merge with whatever we met.
Sometimes terrifying. Often beautiful.
Always sustained by something beyond us.