This meditation formed the basis of the Holy Yoga class I taught last week.
“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD. …”Proverbs 8:32-35 (NIV)
(Written from the perspective of Wisdom.)
I’ve been reading Justin Silver’s The Language of Dogs, a book about dog training, and trying to implement some new techniques.
One thing I’ve been struck by is how he takes … so … much … time in his training sessions. As in, Silver will give an instruction and then wait. The dog will then struggle in its own way to get what it wants but more than likely won’t figure out how. Finally, the dog will turn to Silver with a “what-do-you-want-me-to-do?” look. Silver then gives him a treat for connecting and instructs him again. Clearly. Patiently.
My dog, Leo, has lots of energy. Bystanders tend to be amused by his antics, largely because they think he’s still a puppy. I’ve stopped confessing that Leo, a chocolate lab-rescue mix, is probably 6 or 7 years old. Our walks include lots of leaps, bounds and lurches: darting after a squirrel, barking at other dogs, zigging and zagging after scents on nearly every bush, tree and patch of grass.
We’ve been through at least five different trainers and training programs.
Now following Silver, I thought, what do I want Leo to do? At the most basic, I really just want him to walk without pulling on the leash the whole time.
So I started a new thing. I say, “Let’s go,” and we begin to walk. And when Leo starts pulling and straining on the leash, I simply stop and stand still. I let him strain, not getting where he wants to go. And I wait.
The first time we did this, my expectations were ridiculously out of line with my past experiences. I expected Leo to pull for a few moments before turning and looking at me for guidance.
Right. Instead, he kept looking in the direction he wanted to go. And once he realized we were staying in place, he looked in every other direction. Across the street. Through the nearby fence. At the car pulling out a block away. Anywhere but toward me. For a very … long … time.
Today, as I stood a few blocks from home, holding Leo’s leash, watching his eyes dart hither and yon and back again, everywhere but toward me, something clicked.
I have been acting very much like Leo.
Currently, I’m in a season of waiting. I left my paid work a couple of months ago, largely to return home and be more present for my family but also to focus on promoting my recently published book. These things, plus teaching Holy Yoga, are my current missions. But I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something out in the world I’m supposed to be focusing on.
So I spend time searching, worrying and scanning.
As God’s child, I’m connected—leashed—to God, who I imagine is patiently watching me pull and strain, trying to figure things out on my own. But how often do I look to Him for guidance? Instead, I often exhibit the human equivalent of Leo’s behavior, looking at what other people are doing, googling around for answers and ideas, scanning the horizon for excitement and danger.
As for Leo, after a few weeks of this new way of walking, he gets it now and then. At least for a little bit. I become a drag on the leash and, with a little prompting—a clearing of my throat—he remembers to turn around and look to me. When that happens, he gets a treat, and we begin again.
When I’m so doggedly pulling at my life and searching elsewhere for inspiration, I think I sometimes hear the equivalent of God clearing his throat. I receive good news … or bad news … someone shares a meaningful experience with me … a coincidence helps me look at my situation differently … or I go out to walk the dog and start seeing life in a new way.
I stop, turn my thoughts—Oh, hi God—and am reminded of whose I am and where I really need to look for answers.