Rural Angels

Yesterday, I was on a long trip.  Stopping at a gas station for personal body fuel and to give my engine a rest, I opened the hood of my little truck to check the coolant level.  We have been nursing a slow leak somewhere in the system.  Night had just finished closing the shade on the very last rays of the sun, so I had to rely on the gas station’s eerie green lamps to verify liquid levels.

Releasing the hood’s latch in the cab, I walked around the truck to lift the hood to check things.  Everything looked good. Pulling the hood down to the point where I could let it drop and close with the aid of its own weight, I stepped around to the side of my little truck when a much larger pick-up pulled up directly behind my parked vehicle.

Spirituality

Through her open window on the passenger’s side, a woman turned her head to face me, asking, “Do y’all need any help?” It was the voice of angelic assistance.

“Oh, no.  But, thank you for stopping to ask.  I’m nursing a slow leak in the cooling system.  Everything looks good,” I replied in way of explanation.

“Well, okay–then.  We just wanted to make sure you were all right.”  Her window rolled up, as I watched the large truck glide through the station and onto the access road.

“I love rural people,” I thought.  (This had not been the first time aid had been offered to me on a road trip through a rural area.)

There is something about country folks; they remember (and, I am concerned city folks in their numbers have almost forgotten) the life maxim:  We are here to help one another.

Is Your Pain So Great?

Sitting across from the banker, he chats easily with me while taking down some new contact information.  The subject of dogs comes up.

We talk about dog adoption as a major commitment.  Living with a dog is like having a perennially inquisitive child who is a lot of fun–an instant party really–and who is also capable of some serious mischief (read: potential object destruction).

“I had a friend who lost a dog recently,” the banker continues. “She’d had the dog for fifteen years and, after the dog’s passing, vowed she would never get another dog because the pain of losing the first was too great.”  The banker pauses here looking to me for a response.

I cannot think of anything appropriate to say, so I refrain from speaking.

“Is that your experience?”  he asks me more directly.  The subject of our recently losing a dog had come up.

Spirituality

“No…,” I work on collecting my thoughts.  “I think of relationships in terms of refuge.  Consider how many dogs one person is capable of granting refuge to in the context of one human lifetime.  Four?  Five?  Or more, if the person has the means, time and space.  Think about how many animals we could save from being euthanized.”

“Yes, I hadn’t thought of it that way,” he responds with new consideration.

With our business concluded, I move out of his office, through the building and into the sunshine, thinking to myself, “People is your attatchment to your pain so great that you could not consider giving a fellow creature in need a place of refuge?”  The walk home is long and sweet–though I would prefer to be sharing it with a four-legged friend.

*Notes on dog adoption.  Animal adoption is a major commitment.  On the plus side, dogs can grant us incredible companionship, devotion, loyalty and comfort with the added bonus of our having an “in-home personal trainer” in the form of a consistent walking companion.  On the serious-considerations side, dogs present a major time and training commitment, with expenses for appropriate care, food, kenneling, extra space requirements, as well as cleaning obligations.

Spiritual Perspective: Dandelions

I.  According to my most recent reading, dandelion seeds first appeared purposefully on the North American continent in the mid-1800’s at the request of a Scandinavian immigrant, who wrote home asking that seeds be sent because she could find no other curative and reliable, fresh-greens, nor a comparable medicinal herb.

II.  Very late for class one spring day, after a long winter, a foreign-exchange student was seen by her high-school peers, frolicking through a full field of bright, spring blossoms.  Her speech class and teacher watched as she progressed through the expansive field of  flowers reveling, stopping, dropping and picking blossoms–until she dropped out of sight only to burst into her first-hour class, breathless and powdered with fine yellow dust.

Spirituality

“Why are we in school today?” she blurted out.  “Why are we not on holiday, celebrating the beautiful field of spring blossoms?”  Her throat pulsed from all of her racing and cavorting.

“You mean the dandelions?” the teacher asked.

“The beautiful field of flowers,” she responded emphatically.

Then, another student said, “Those are weeds.”

III.  Although this last narrative is not a story of my personal witness, I share it because I trust the teller, the tale and the lesson:  perspective.

The next time you sit down with someone, check-in with that person about what he is seeing, hearing, feeling and experiencing–before making any assumptions, judgments or conclusions.  Just because you now share the same proximity and circumstance does not mean you share the same perspective on events and the environment around you.

Affluence

Generally, when we think of affluence, we conceive of a person or an organization of fiscal means.  And, there can be a tremendous sense of freedom and choice associated with pecuniary affluence.  Yet, sometimes, what happens in cases of more substantial, fiscal affluence is an ungrounding of Spirit, where the fiscally “independent” loses sight of life’s natural web and cycles, as well as the potential wealth behind a healthy, functioning social whole.

Spirituality

If we were to rework our definition of affluence to include considerations for the ways in which we can assist one another–without harming Spirit in ourselves or another–along our personal and professional paths and with a respectful and inclusive eye toward the gift of our place in the world, we would begin to behave quite differently.  Profit would be measured in terms of the extention of assistance. And, we might begin metering biological and social health instead of concerning ourselves with the numbers associated with our fiscal holdings.  Our sense of freedom and choice would change to include considerations about how we are spending our time with regard to life-affirming pursuits.

Thus, toward a new definition of affluence, we are granted the gift of a full relationship with Spirit grounded in the whole and a sense of unlimited time and infinite possibilities–so unlike the ideas of limits and scarcity pervading the worldview around affluence now.

Spiritual Intimacy

So much is made of intimacy in the West.  We fantasize and romanticize about finding the “one” who will understand us, help lift us up when we are down and hold us physically as we explore what it means to be embodied.

Spirituality

But, the real, rarified intimacy we so crave only comes about when we learn how to hold ourselves.  We must come to know how to hold the cares of our heart with tenderness, to attend to our physical needs with the same fastidiousness of a consistently loving grandparent and become capable of talking ourselves up (or down) in stressful situations.

When was the last time you made yourself a full breakfast to enjoy in bed on a weekend morning?  Drew yourself an extra hot bath?  Or, simply sat through and listened to a full album of music with no other distractions tugging on your mind?

Pursue the workings of your sacred heart with the same passionate ardor you would apply to a new relationship. You just might find yourself falling in love.

Grace

Grace is something flowing in and around us at all times. Grace, if it could be solidified, is that nugget of wisdom helping us affirm our own lives, as well as the lives of others–when we listen and allow.

Spirituality

Grace is natural generosity, mercy and compassion.  Grace removes the harsh strictures from our hearts when we will to forgive and choose to move forward in the face of our own or another’s non-life-affirming behavior.

Listening and allowing, initially, take consistent practice, committed intention and attentive effort.  Quite often, we must participate in our own behavioral “retooling” to learn the way of Grace.  And, yet, the path need not be difficult. Let go.

Love will begin to fill the spaces of your days with Light

Suffer the Little Children…

A man has come to sit and talk with me in a church where I am visiting.  We are talking about finding that sweet space in the heart where Peace resides.

Spirituality

“If they are growing up in a supportive environment, I think children ages three to six know who they are.  Who were you when you were that age?  What did you enjoy doing?” I offer him these questions.  “In my experience, if we access this place in our hearts, then, we can move forward in joy.  It nourishes the soul to be spontaneous, creative and genuinely–uniquely ourselves.  We are at our most authentic during our early, formative years.”