This morning, just before the sun slipped up high enough to shine over the circuitous mesa we call the Dragon, I walked in my morning ritual with my pup, Ubuntu. As always, he showed me something important. Recently I’ve begun calling him "my King", or "my teacher" at times, as I know there are so many ways that he carries wisdom and care for me that I need to learn.
Since taking him to Skye the brilliant trainer of dogs, I’ve been working with walking on a retractable leash…for me this is some half way point between the hard work of training on a short leash and giving him a further freedom that no leash at all offers.
As we walked in the lightly frosted grasses of what had been an alfalfa field and approached the line of dusky browning weeds that separates the fields, I noticed him stopping periodically to listen. Rather than moving along lost in my own thoughts, I stopped with him, soaked in the unavoidable silence and witnessed his brilliance…one so important for we humans to ascertain. Over and over he would stop and seemed to sharpen his senses…listening deeply, smelling, looking…pausing all of his smooth black body almost as if paralyzed, to catch a “glimpse” with some part of his consciousness of what had caught his attention. There was something, surely, that was calling to him on a level that was just below where most of his senses were entrained to lead. He would stop, instantly, sometimes with one paw in the air and turn towards the tawny colored dying plants, and listen.
Isn’t this our task too…rather than to speed along with such forward momentum towards our rationally appointed tasks of the day, to pause…frequently, and listen to what is under the surface? or hidden in the underbrush of our lives? or in the cracks and crevices of our emotional body? What if THAT were most important in our daze? What if we allowed it it’s importance? the pause to listen....the paws to listen! Our lives have been subsumed by the race towards acquisition and “to do lists” while all the time something waits, hidden to us, hoping we’ll notice it’s life…something…some one of us that longs to be seen and embodied.
Moments later Ubuntu was racing along again, straining at the length of the leash with hardly a care that something..some one was requesting that he slow down….but then again and again he would STOP, instantly, and turn all of himself towards what was hidden and barely audible. Interesting reflection!
As I turn towards this idea of taking a sabbatical, I am suddenly giving a newly replenished kind of great wonder towards this idea of what calls to us…always…that we pay so little attention to. My practice with Ubuntu quickly became to stop with him and listen. For me now, my ears and heart are tuning to what is…and has been calling to me to pay attention. It has gotten louder recently and so has tugged sufficiently that I know I must change my life accordingly, but I think it is always there…whispering….living in the places we don’t dare to look or feel. In these small pauses, I am allured towards a grand curiosity and sometimes terror of what I would find if I gave attention in a much larger pause oriented towards the question of what does the world want from me and what is mine to offer back, in what time I have left. And how long do I have left??? we never know, do we? And thus the imperative to stop now….STOP and listen. And then it is more than the stopping and listening, isn’t it? we must dare to step forward with what calls us and be the conduit for it to be seen in the world.
Later as we traveled along a watery ditch…this one still filled with green grasses in this late autumn season….Ubuntu chose to pounce and pounce and pounce on whatever was catching his attention. I’m not sure anyone was actually there in the hidden ravine, but his fox like body wanted to give his energy to that thing that called. Another lesson….may we have such body knowing and energy to pounce when we hear the call!!
Lesson number three from this morning’s walk…walking back now towards my little wildheart cottage…still huddled in the shadow of the dragon, I walk toward the fresh light of this new day on the gravel road lined with juniper fencing. The angle of the light gifted the landscape and the road with shadows that offered definition and punctuation, unlike the mid day sun does. (shadows are such helpful creatures if we look towards them!) The marriage of this light and shadow offered up the intricacy and abundance of tracks left in the road from last night’s journeyers. So many deer prints …our winter residents and hunting season refugees. Raccoon’s wonderfully human like prints too, appeared before me as I lend my attention to the path before me. That one I never see in the flesh, but the secret of tracks is that it shows us what is invisible to our eyes. Again…the hidden mysteries make themselves known. When we ourselves become trackers…and give our attention sensually, with our pause, with our imagination and feeling body, we begin to notice the truth of this phenomenal existence….there is an entire invisible world that surrounds us…available to us should we care to notice…always offering secret fuel to our existence. Wonder and Mystery abide. We are it and we swim in it’s invisible wake. Allow yourself it’s gifts.