During this past year, a new family moved in next door, bringing with them two small dogs. Even though their yard is enclosed with a tall privacy fence, these little dogs have found ever new ways to escape their yard and run into mine, barking constantly. You know the sound, yap yap yap. I nicknamed them the little bandits, because of their ability to escape and their humorous attempt to instill fear in myself, my little dog, and my cat.
This morning my dog and my cat and I were enjoying sitting outside, enjoying the warmth, listening to the birds and other nature sounds, and watching the two geese at the edge of the yard.
Our peaceful reverie was soon disturbed by little Bandit, the smallest and loudest of the two dogs His barking soon chased the geese into the lake. He then stood yapping at the three of us. I looked at him and had a realization. He was not barking in an attempt to frighten us, he barks because he is afraid.
He longs for the freedom to run and explore beyond the boundaries of his own confined yard, yet this freedom brings him in contact with an unknown person, dog and cat. He escapes only to find a new prison: fear of the unknown.
So this morning as I watched him standing there, barking, I began to silently speak to him. I told him that he was welcome to visit our yard, but only with his owner’s permission. We wished him no harm, and wanted him to be safe at all times. I told him how cute and adorable he is, and that the barking was a distraction from his preciousness.
He became very quiet and looked directly at me. Then very quickly he darted back under his fence.
From my experience with him, I realized that many of the people we encounter who are “barkers,” loud, complaining, threatening, are really hiding an unconscious fear. If they are loud enough, no one can see their fear, and they don’t have to confront it themselves.
In my experience with little Bandit, whose real name is Duchess, I saw love cancel fear. Love and fear cannot occupy the heart at the same time. In our day-to-day lives, we may at times experience times of great love and also great fear.
There are many things that create fear– fear of illness or death, loss of a job or financial well-being, loss of a friendship or relationship, and so many others. When we are facing the unknown and fear arises, can we befriend it? In our imagination we can address it, much as I did with little Bandit. We can imagine the fear as a little yapping dog, and usher it back to its confine within a fence labeled love. Then replace the thoughts of fear with something that we love, an image of a loved one or a spiritual ideal.
I do know from my own experiences that love opens doors and fear closes them. It is not easy to face the unknown, but we can make an effort to choose to face what we do know for sure. I chose to see little Bandit as a frightened yet resourceful adorable little dog, rather than a nuisance. He can now see me not as a threat, but perhaps as a friendly neighbor.
Perhaps he has taught me to see all annoyances and problems as lessons, that once learned, disappear under the fence of consciousness. And when they return, it will be as a blessing and lesson.
Isn’t life grand?
A short visit to a grocery store this afternoon took an unexpected turn and reminded me of a gift and lesson from the past. As I stood in the checkout line, I suddenly felt a presence behind me. I turned to see a small Hispanic girl with a book in hand. She only had the one item, so I said, “You only have one item, why don’t you go ahead.” She replied that she needed the clerk to check the price on the booklet. Her little brother would be starting school, and she felt this book would help him, but she needed to know the price, because her Mother might not have enough money for it. The girl was so mature, well spoken, gracious, and obviously kind. Rather than seeking a gift for herself, she wanted something to help her little brother succeed. I said, “I’ll buy it for you.” She said, “I’ll have to ask my Mother if it’s ok.” I said, “Let’s get it, and you can tell your Mother I wanted to do this for you and your brother.” She thanked me very graciously.
I told the clerk I wanted to pay for the book separately so that she would have a receipt. With the transaction complete, I gave her the book in a bag with the receipt to show her Mom and put the change in her hand. She thanked me again. I told her I knew that she and her brother would have a wonderful year.
As I drove away, I remembered an incident from my childhood. I was a child probably about the age of this girl. I was at an afternoon movie with my younger siblings. After buying out tickets, there was money left to buy one candy bar. I carefully divided the bar into equal pieces, a piece for each of us.
Suddenly someone touched me on the shoulder. A woman sitting behind us had been watching. In a soft and kind voice, she said that she had watched us share the candy bar, and wanted to give me something. She pressed a coin in my hand, enough to buy more candy. I know I mumbled thank you, but I was lacking the grace and dignity of the young girl I met today. You see, I was embarrassed that she knew there was only enough money for one candy bar. At the time, rather than being able to see a gift of love given only out of love and compassion, I felt it one of pity. I was unlike the little girl today, who had grace and poise, and no apology or shame that she had to check the price first, only a gentle grace and appreciation.
Sometimes a spiritual gift or blessing comes to reveal to us something about ourselves that needs correcting. Although once a flaw in our self-image comes to our awareness, it may take many years to grow into a fuller knowledge of ourselves as a precious being who doesn’t have to do anything to deserve this love that is our birthright, we just have to accept it.
I realized as I was driving away from the store, that on this and other occasions, I have had the opportunity to return the gift the lady gave to me all of those years ago to other children. And perhaps one day, as I was remembering today, they will recall a small act of kindness, and pass along a gift of love to another.
I was reminded of a statement in a talk in 2010 by Harold Klemp, the Spiritual leader of Eckankar, entitled “The Golden Contract.”
“This is the golden contract: that every encounter, without exception, is there to move Soul along spiritually on Its way back home to God. That’s every encounter, every event, without exception.”
An experience from the past, when viewed from the present moment, becomes golden, when we see the lesson of love behind it.
When I was a child growing up in a Christian church in a small town, I thought of heaven as place where the roads were paved with gold and the streets lined with mansions. I didn’t give much thought to what people might do once they moved into their mansions. Now as an adult and a serious student of the spiritual life, I know there are many levels of heaven, wondrous spiritual planes that exist beyond this one, ready to be explored by the spiritually adventurous. And I have learned that the golden road is here now, that we are walking it every day, connecting the dots of our life experiences, so that the picture takes shape, and we find meaning in the smallest details of our day.
When I began today with my morning contemplation, I asked what I needed to learn to take my next spiritual step, to grow in consciousness. And the answer came in the guise of a young Hispanic girl with a golden heart.
When I began this blog, I told the story of how a friend told me a story that inspired the title, Catching Water. We were deep in conversation one day, and she shared with me the story of her visits as a child to her grandparent’s home in the Tennessee hills. Her grandparents didn’t have running water, and her grandmother would take a large jar up a hill to the head of a stream and fill the jar with water for their use at home. Her grandmother called this catching water.
As we talked and she reminisced, a wonderful love began to fill the room, and a special spiritual presence was felt by both of us. I told her she had just given me the title I had been waiting for, because I wanted to write letters that would help readers catch the spirit of life, the wonder of it all, and that water is a symbol of Spirit. She closed her eyes for a moment, then said, “Susan, we’ve just been to church!” We laughed with joy and appreciation for the time we had just spent together.
She gave me a great gift that day in sharing that story, for I knew that was the sign to begin writing the “book of letters” that I had seen in a dream.
Sadly, tonight I received a call that she is in intensive care with organ failure. It seems her time here is limited. While I grieve for the loss of her bright spirit, the love and compassion she gave to everyone, I know the skills learned from her grandmother all those years ago will have her well prepared to enter a larger stream of life, and to climb yet a higher mountain to a greater level of love and freedom.
She will be sorely missed here, but I know I will soon see her in the dream worlds, and she can tell me all about a new level of catching water, and how she is now free of thirst and longing and wondering.
Thank you, Dana, for being my friend and inspiring me with your stories. My love goes with you.
Alas, my new car doesn’t have a cd player. They are being phased out by auto makers, and cds will soon will soon go the way of cassettes and become a novelty of the past. Change always comes, and we must, although at times grudgingly, adapt.
Tired of not being able to listen to my audio cds in the car, for they inspire me and keep my focus on higher things, I recently spent one evening downloading several of my cds onto the computer. After creating a playlist, I was ready to add it to my device, a flash drive Up in the right hand corner of the computer screen was the word “sync.” Only after pressing sync could the material be transmitted to the device for my listening pleasure when plugged into my car.
While I was doing this, I thought of the spiritual metaphor in the process. A pool of true wisdom and higher knowledge lies within us. Yet we have such constant outer distraction and inner mind chatter that we are seldom in touch with it. We are divided into parts, and have forgotten how to find that sense of wholeness that we long for. We seek yet another distraction, another mind toy. Still we remain unfulfilled.
Dreams are great teachers. In a recent dream, I was viewing a man and woman who were having discord in their relationship. As she was resting, he knelt over her and said, “You talk so much that you can’t hear that I love you.” While I know this can be true in our relationships with others, it can also be true of our relationship with our higher self.
We can think of this break in communication caused by constant mental talk as a break in communication between Soul and the human consciousness, but also between us and what we conceive God, source, or inner guidance to be. After the dream, I had to ask myself, “Am I talking to myself so much inwardly that I can’t hear that You love me, or sense Your presence at times?”
This morning I heard a jazz musician on a tv program speak of Miles Davis. He said that while Miles wasn’t technically perfect, he had the gift of creating pause, space between notes, that give a special gift and sense of stillness to his music. I again saw a wonderful metaphor in this, for art always teaches us about life. We must give pause to sense what lies between. Do we use our time, or does our time use us? Do we use our life, or does life use us?
One of the talks in my cd collection is entitled “The Heart and Hand of God,” by Harold Klemp. That title has always given me much to contemplate. How do the heart and hand of God move through life? Can I be the heart and hand of God in my own life?
Those who have a daily time of quiet contemplation, prayer, or meditation, or who spend time in a quiet walk or in nature, know that this special time is when we hit pause. We take time to come into inner and outer harmony, in “sync” with what lies between.
I have learned that this daily time of true contemplation allows me to come into harmony with what is true and real and align with a greater purpose. We must first gain this gift for ourselves before we can, in service, give this gift back to life. I can only be the hand of God, in service to life, if my heart has opened to a greater love and harmony. I can only bring peace if I have peace. I can only be a source of love if love has entered my own heart without compromise.
To synchronize, to come into harmony with, is to come into agreement with something. How often do we take time to consider what we are agreeing to let into our consciousness? Our agreements with life determine how we view ourself and others. We have false standards by which we judge ourself and others. Most of our inner agreements are unconscious, imbedded over time by family patterns, media, society, and even politics, education and religion. These agreements can only be removed by becoming aware of them and replacing them with a higher agreement. If we can train our mind, our consciousness to be flexible and fluid, to be open to change, we have learned a valuable secret of survival.
A daily spiritual practice helps us come into agreement with that still quiet voice, the spiritual current of inner Light and Sound. In time old messages and agreements are replaced by higher ones. What do you want yours to be?
After hearing the famous and much-loved song, “I Did It My Way” last evening on TV, it has been playing in my mind. This morning I had some thoughts about doing it “my way” versus the “high way.”
Perhaps the composer of the song was referring to staying true to oneself, one’s integrity, and surviving obstacles and challenges. Reflecting on the song, however, had me reflecting on the past years in my life when I did things “my way,” meaning from the unconscious, unaware state of the human ego.
From my limited viewpoint framed by limited life experiences, doing things my way didn’t necessarily turn out to be the best way. Time and experience teach us better. These days I begin my day by asking in my morning contemplation that my thoughts, words, and actions be aligned with my higher self, Soul, and that all be done according to Thy will, for my highest good and the good of the whole.
And from The Lord’s Prayer, so often recited in this country: “…Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
True alignment with will larger than our personal ego requires careful thought and reflection, humility, and an open heart and open mind. Maybe there is so much discord, war, unhappiness in the world because everyone is doing it their way, not looking inwardly for the High Way.
I’m still looking, wondering, learning, walking the road of life more carefully than years ago, but still learning where the cracks and potholes are. But I have found that I don’t see them by looking down, only when I look up.
“We must be light to rise toward God.” I wrote this sentence several years ago while working on a book. Yesterday morning it came back to mind. The rest of the paragraph that preceded it says this: I know there have been times after recovering … Continue reading We Must Be Light to Rise