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My guru has four legs
Who can resist puppy eyes?
When I take my dog, Pax, for a walk, we are always at cross purposes. My goal for the walk is to record my steps and my exercise minutes on my watch, and get back to my home office to resume my work as quickly as possible. His goal is to sniff every bush and blade of grass, pee on anything and everything so other dogs know he passed by, and greet every person who crosses our path.
His particular passion is to try to chase the squirrels we see along the walk. He tugs at the leash, trying his best to engage in hot pursuit of these furry tree rodents. I laughed at his frustration and even made up a song to the tune of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" that I imagine he sings on every walk:
I see squirrel in trees,
Squirrels in leaves,
Squirrels I want to chase and eat,
But I think to myself, but for this damnable leash!
Yes, I think to myself, but for this damnable leash!
Yesterday's walk was particularly challenging as I found myself in a rush, wanting to get back to the house to tackle the mountain of work that awaited me. Pax was blissfully unaware of such human concerns. Instead, he joyfully sniffed, marked, and greeted. At one particular point, when my frustration with his delays were building, I jerked him hard away from his sniffing spot.
Pax is only 35 pounds, but when he finds something worthy of sniffing, he is loathe to leave before he has enjoyed every last aspect of that particular aroma. When I grow impatient and want to move on, I pull at his leash, and he digs in his paws and refuses to move. It takes a lot of effort to get him moving when he's determined to stay. In this moment, I forced him to come along.
As he walked back to my side he stopped and looked up at me with those soft brown eyes as if to say, "Why can't we just enjoy the journey?" That's when I realized Pax is my four-legged guru. This was his goal for the walk – to enjoy the journey. I, on the other hand, had a destination. The walk, for me, was a means to an end – to accomplish my exercise goals and get back to work. With that attitude, Pax becomes my prop – my dog-owner responsibility – not a companion on my journey.
I realized in that moment that Pax represented the journey Holy Spirit wants us to take, while I represented the ego that is forever pulling us back into our lives where we focus on a destination – work, success, doing over being.
God is always calling us enjoy this journey of life without worrying about destinations or arriving at some distant point in the future. When life is a journey, we can allow ourselves the luxury of stopping along the way and admiring what's around us, being fully present to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and pleasures of this world. When we're on a journey we find ourselves curious about the world around us. We take time to meet those who pass by, learn about them and make that connection with others that reminds us of our unity and oneness. We miss all of that when we live our lives focused on a destination.
Yesterday, Pax taught me how to slow down and enjoy the journey. A Course in Miracles tells us in Chapter 8 that we are all on "a journey without distance," which simply means that while we believe our spiritual destination is to return home to oneness with God and others, in Reality, we're already home. "The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever," A Course says.
The ego, however, wants to keep us focused on a destination – a goal or achievement – to distract us from realizing the joy of taking that journey without distance which is simply our awakening to the truth that we are always at home in God, always innocent, Holy and loved.
As those big brown eyes stared at me yesterday, I awakened to this truth and experienced the presence of God fully in that moment.
Where are you being driven by the ego's demand that you achieve something or reach a specific goal or destination? It's true we all have responsibilities, demands, and deadlines that we have accepted in this bodily life. Spirit, though, is always calling us to see this life as a journey – a chance to use our time wisely to commune with God in Love and bring that Love back out into the world in everything we say and do during the day.
I was reminded of that yesterday by a furry guru with four legs and beautiful brown puppy eyes. You have a guru with you as well – that still, small voice of the Holy that is with you always, just trying to remind you to stop and notice the miracles all around you in this world. As you rush to complete your goals or reach your destination today, I invite you to remember to linger a little longer whenever you recognize something beautiful or miraculous in the world around you.
Don't be so quick to tug your attention back to your destination. It will always be there, like the squirrels taunting Pax to chase them. Sometimes the "damnable leash" is simply Spirit trying to remind you not to chase what you ultimately will not catch, and don't really want, anyway. Instead, just relax and enjoy the journey.
What are some ways you’ve found to enjoy the journey of life? Share in the comments.
Motley Mystic is a free publication, but if you would like to support my work, you can do so by making a donation to Jubilee! Circle, the spiritual community I lead in Columbia, SC. Join us in person every Sunday at 11:15 Eastern if you’re in town, or on YouTube wherever you’re located.
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About the Motley Mystic:
The Motley Mystic is an online community for people who have realized that the truth speaks with many voices. There is no one religion, philosophy, institution or dogma that captures the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. No one needs to swear allegiance to one line of thought or belief to discern Truth, because Love is the only thing that’s real. That’s what we explore at the Motley Mystic - all the tools and strategies we need to remove our barriers to Love and live fully as our true, Divine Self.
Candace Chellew is the founder of Motley Mystic as well as Jubilee! Circle, an interfaith spiritual community in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians published in 2008 by Jossey-Bass and the founder and senior editor emeritus of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for LGBTQ People of Faith. She is also a musician and avid animal lover.
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