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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #67


    Then, when we moved to Oxford, Bishop Gore came to stay with us for a few days.  I expected to be terrified but even though he resembled the Isaiah of my youthful imaginings I was not afraid; and I had always thought Isaiah would be as terrifying to meet as Beethoven.  "Truly great men and women are never terrifying," someone told me lately.  "Their humility puts you at your ease.  If a very important person frightens you he is not great; he only thinks he is."      Nor can one dog-lover easily be frightened by another and Bishop Gore was a dog-lover; or at least upon this visit he lost his heart to our dog.  We had at this time a very great dog.  It has been said that the dog is the saint among the animals, so great are his powers of love and forgiveness, and if that is so then Brownie was a pre-eminent saint among very many.  He was a large dog, possessed of quietness and dignity, and I will say no more of him at the moment, returning to him with what I fear may be great length later.  Suffice it to say here that he and Bishop Gore greeted each other with what appeared to be a kind of recognition.  It was very odd.  There was only one person who ever willingly sat in our dismal dining room under the eyes of those humourless men in the portraits, and that person was Brownie.  He liked the place.  Stretched out on the wide comfortable sofa he could feel himself separated from the ceaseless comings and goings of a busy house.  He liked to meditate and there he could do so in peace.  One day during his visit to us Bishop Gore could not be found.  He was discovered with Brownie in the dining room, sharing the sofa, caressing the dog's wide domed forehead and long silky ears and murmuring over and over again, "I like you, Brownie.  Brownie, I like you."   -Elizabeth Goudge, The Joy of the Snow (1974), pp. 212-213


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