Category Archives: Animals

In Memoriam, my Montana

It has nearly been one year since the passing away of one of the great loves of my life.  About six months ago, when I had a dream of a beautiful mountain viewed from the perspective of a cloud, I realized upon waking how much grief I carried with me every day.  She was strong as a mountain to me, and she effortlessly supported me with simple, present love every day of her life.  When my life seemed to my perspective to have turned upside-down, she behaved as though everything was right-side up.  When I couldn’t find a way to love myself well, much less anyone else, she gave me love without condition.  When I felt unsafe and fearful, her kind fearlessness was a reassuring presence.  When I lost my home, she was all the home I needed to feel that I belonged somewhere.

The way this magnificent being loved was so simple and steady.  She did not ask me to be a better human being than I could manage to be at any given moment.  She taught me by example to be better than I had been being; I often found a better way of being by just watching her being a radiant being.  We humans often believe we are at the top of a hierarchy of sentient beings.  I must respectfully disagree. When I think of her, I am reminded of this beautiful poem by Hafiz, who defined this kind of love in the most poignant metaphor:  “Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’  Look what happens with a love like that.  It lights the Whole Sky.”

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Sydney, the Three-Legged Mindfulness Ambassador

I would like to introduce you to one of my greatest Mindfulness teachers.

Sydney lost one of his hind legs when he was perhaps 4 months old.  He was left overnight (tied to a post) in the parking lot of a local animal shelter with his left rear ankle missing and ligature marks just above the wound.  He was undernourished, and he had probably been tied up and entangled somewhere for so long that his entangled ankle became necrotic.  We’re not sure how it happened, but our vet thinks that he may have saved his own life by chewing off his own ankle.

The wonderful folks at the Richmond Animal Care and Control  secured funding and veterinary assistance through Helping Hands, and within hours, they were able to successfully amputate his leg and put him on a course of antibiotics that saved his life.

He was taken very good care of by the staffers at RACC during his recovery, until my partner rescued him less than a week later.  It took him a little while to recover, but in just a few weeks, he was playing, running, and, of course, jumping up onto the couch when he hadn’t been invited.

Despite all that this amazing dog has been through, he is the happiest entity I have ever known.  He can be tranquil and quiet for long stretches of time, qualities which make him an excellent meditation assistant.

He practices the art of balance better than anyone I know.

He takes good care of the temple of his body, eating healthy foods.

His expressive eyes share that he is absolutely present for every encounter that we have with him.

And, he never misses an opportunity to engage in life’s most meaningful pleasures.

He is happy wherever he goes, whatever he does, and with whomever he happens to be. He is confident, joyous, curious, loving, compassionate, and extraordinarily kind.

He is now fully healed, and he has a full life. He plays with other dogs almost every day, he goes hiking and camping with my partner, and he relaxes like a lapdog champ–all 70+ pounds of him.

I sometimes wonder what he must have gone through, and my imaginative empathy is carried away to events no one should have to imagine.  I have, on more than one occasion, filled with rage that anyone could do such a terrible thing to so beautiful a being.

But, Sydney himself reminds me that no pain is permanent, and that joy, love, and happiness can come from the most unlikely places.  He reminds me to have compassion for those who harm others, for they have surely been harmed themselves.  And, he reminds me that  Love is expressed in its highest possible resonance by Being Fully Present in the Moment.

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