The two friends were lazing out in the meadow, allowing the Sun to warm them while they idly discussed life, the universe, and other stuff. The conversation had lagged for a while when Girl spoke up.
“Bear,” said the Girl. “Do you have dreams when you sleep?”
Bear looked at her and smirked. “Yeah, I dream of fat, fresh seals, waiting to be caught and eaten!”
Girl smacked him on his shoulder. “No, I mean real dreams.”
Bear's smile faded, “Sometimes.”
“What are they about?”
Bear's head dropped. “Things that were…and never can be again. Mostly”
Girl was silent for a time, then said, “Bear?”
Bear looked up at her again, “Yes, Girl what is it now?”
Girl looked down, “Nothing. Just…I promise I will find a way to help you.”
Bear looked away, swallowed hard, looked back at her, and started to speak, then stopped.
He stared at her for a long time, then finally said, “Thank you, Girl. I'd appreciate that.”
Girl finished braiding the flowers she had picked, then placed the crown of flowers on Bear's head.
His eyes moved up as if he were looking at the flowers. “Get this thing off me!”
Girl put her hand to her mouth and giggled.
“But you look so GOOD in it!”
Bear tossed his head, throwing the crown of flowers off to one side.
Then he stood up on all four paws and pushed his nose so that it just barely touched hers.
She giggled again, kissed it, then jumped up and ran back into the cabin, slamming the door…giggling the whole way.
Bear looked after her, then muttered, “Girls! Hunh!” and slowly followed her.
Later that afternoon, Girl was lying on the sofa, reading a Zane Grey novel, when she dropped the book on her lap and looked over at Bear.
“Bear?” Girl asked.
Bear lifted his head from the rag rug, not so much because of the question, but because of her tone of voice.
“Where do you think we go when we die?”
Bear thought for a moment, then said, “Hoboken,” and dropped his head back to the rag rug.
Girl dropped her head and giggled, “BEAR!”
He looked at her out of the corner of one eye, then sighed. “Girl, do I look smart enough to answer that? Really?”
Girl nodded. “Yes.”
Bear lifted his head and stared at her. “Hunh.”
He turned his head away and was silent for a while. “Well…” he started, then paused again.
“Girl, I could tell you what Robert Heinlein said, through one of his characters, Lazarus Long…”
“You’ll know soon enough, so why worry about it.”
She snickered, “But that’s cheating!”
Bear nodded, “Yes, it is.”
She looked down at her lap, then up at him again, “Bear…I know you don’t know…"
“Too right, honey child!”
“…but what do you think?”
Bear heaved a heavy sigh. “I think…that what my father and my brother thought is too unlikely.”
He paused, until Girl said, “Go on.”
“They thought that once you died, that was it – there was nothing more. You just…vanished. POOF!”
Girl waited, then said, “But…?”
Bear looked back at her, “But I think that avoids the central question, the one I asked Ram Dass: ‘Is spiritual existence real?"
Girl said, “But he didn’t say it was! He just said there was no objective evidence of it!”
Bear nodded, “Yes, but think about that for a second. If there is no spiritual existence, then…what are we?”
Girl looked puzzled. “I…I don’t get what you mean, Bear.”
Bear nodded again, “Because it’s too obvious. It’s right in front of you, all the time.
“Are we just lumps of meat, animated by random numbers, random neurons firing away in a semblance of rationality? That’s what atheists would have us believe. And make no mistake – atheism is a faith.
“Atheists make a positive declaration of faith that is unprovable: ‘I believe there is no God!’ But they have no proof.”
Girl cocked her head to one side, “That…that’s not quite all to the argument – and you’re getting off topic.”
Bear snorted. “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. It’s easier to demonstrate that atheism is a faith than that spiritual existence is real.
“But think of this: Who is at home here? Who are you, and who are you talking to? Are you a female human, speaking to a bear?
“Or even if I were still a man, are you a separate entity, a human woman, speaking to a human man? Or are you this…person, communing with another person?”
Bear shifted position restlessly, “It’s not the lumps of meat sending sound waves back, and forth that is happening here, Girl. It is two souls communing with each other.”
Bear went silent. Girl, looked off into the distance, chewing her lower lip.
Finally, she shook her head, “That’s not proof, Bear.”
Bear looked at her, “I never said it was. What I’m asking is for you to understand yourself – your gestalt. Are you a talking lump of meat – or are you something more?”
Girl looked pensive again, “I’m more.”
“Yes you are,” said Bear. “And so am I.”
The room was silent for a long time.
Then Bear heaved a deep sigh and said, “Do we have any ice cream left? I think that’s more important.”
Girl threw her book at him, then launched herself from the sofa across the rug, and hugged Bear around the neck.
“You are just spoiled!”
She got up and walked towards the kitchen. “I’ll go check”