George the Groodle
My divine dog, George, had to have minor surgery at the weekend, under a general anaesthetic. I felt horrible as I handed him over to the vet. He didn’t want to go with him and looked back at me as I headed out the door. I couldn’t start the car as I was overtaken by nerves, thoughts running through my head about what if something went wrong. It was one of those moments where I was able to reflect on the important role George plays in my life.
Love no matter what
Being able to love unconditionally is so good for me as it allows me to tap into that part of me that is connected to the limitless consciousness of the universe. It’s easy to understand why I love my children unconditionally, but to love an animal in this way has a purity about it that I don’t get from anything else. Animals have that added vulnerability that most humans don’t have, which is found in the fact that they are unable to tell us when they are in pain or feeling unwell. Because of this, we have to be more attuned to their needs in ways that transcend language. For this reason, I believe we connect with them at a deeper level. Our pets allow us to enter into the unknown, to embrace the possibilities of a higher power and to love with all our heart.
Dog of hope
It is no coincidence that the word dog is an anagram of the word God, for these three letters conjure up within me a connection with nature that fills me with hope and enlightenment. Dogs are an example of forgiveness and loving in its purest form. It’s no wonder people love their pets as much as they do. For a while now, I’ve been thinking a lot about my spiritual life. I was born into a family that followed the traditions of the Catholic Church and I have therefore experienced the peace and tranquillity that can be found in the collective consciousness, in a place of worship. I’ve written about this in a previous blog where I explained how I am no longer a strict Catholic although I do find comfort in many of the teachings of the Bible.
The greater good
Ultimately, whether a person calls themselves Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Protestant or Muslim, by embracing a spiritual path we are acknowledging that we are part of a higher power, a oneness that allows us to have a different understanding of what it means to be alive. All religions encourage people to love more, forgive more and to be of service to one another. But unfortunately, because of their doctrines, they can also threaten and condemn people who don’t follow their rules. What I find unacceptable is their propensity to condemn other faiths as though theirs is right and everyone else is wrong. I put this down to the ego getting in the way and people getting carried away with their sense of power. It’s where the faith and mystery of God becomes swallowed up by politics and people’s quest for certainty. Sadly, this alienates people and discourages them from seeking spiritual growth through other means.
When asked if he was religious, Einstein said ‘I believe there are forces in this universe that I will never understand and I hold these forces in great reverence, and to this degree I am religious.’
For me, it’s the fact that we don’t know everything that keeps me in awe of life and keeps me open to what might be. Therefore, religion is an attempt to explain the unknowable, the why, and the nature of our existence. By getting in touch with our spiritual side, we find a release from the superficial qualities of life that don’t bring happiness. Anyone who has experienced addiction will understand this.
Although I haven’t attended AA meetings as part of my recovery from alcohol-dependency, I have inadvertently been following the 12 steps. I know this because I have recently started watching a lot of videos online about other people’s experiences and they all agree on one thing: striving to be a better person and spirituality are beautifully intertwined.
In order to fully embrace recovery and become the person we were meant to be, we need to surrender to the higher power and know that we are a part of something greater than ourselves alone. And it isn’t just about recovering from an addiction, it can be recovering our true selves that we somehow lost along the way and ended up unhappy, somewhere we never intended to be. Being able to look inside ourselves and admit this takes courage which comes easier when we feel supported by a higher power.
Religion V Spiritualism
So, I am going to call it spirituality from now on because religion has the negative associations of judgement and punishment.
The definition in my dictionary says that spiritualism is the ‘searching for something sacred’. I like that. If we see and embrace the sacred aspect of life, we become more grateful and more compassionate. It allows us to look inside ourselves and see that we are part of something big and something worth appreciating. Spirituality can bring hope to the hopeless as it reveals to them that falling down, being broken, is part of the shared human experience. We have permission to forgive ourselves and to keep striving to be the best we can be. And of course, no-one is getting out of here alive so isn’t it about time that we savour the life we have and flourish!
Ending on wonderment
Who would have thought a curly canine could inspire me to come to such an enlightened conclusion today? By George, he is a special d o g. Call it serendipity, but I just looked up the expression ‘by George’ in the dictionary and I am blown away by the definition:
(euphemistic) By God!: expressing wonderment, zeal
I rest my case. Thanks for your attention this week. May you have a week full of compassion and wonderment.