Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blessed Animal Beings

In recent days I have begun exploring the art of blessing. I am forming my prayers in the shape of blessing rather than as petitions or requests as is more familiar in the religious tradition in which I was raised. One of my mentors and guides in this experience is John O’Donohue and his book, To Bless the Space Between Us. (A true gem!)

Stories and posts about the four legged and furry (or two legged and feathered? Or no legged and smooth?) spiritual teachers with whom many of us live abound on the blogs that I follow. So, I offer this blessing for all of you. And for those who may not have live-in animal gurus, may you have the opportunity to look into nature and the wild (or your neighbor’s back yard) to have your own private teaching session.

To Learn From Animal Being

Nearer to the earth’s heart,

Deeper within its silence:

Animals know this world

In a way we never will.

We who are ever

Distanced and distracted

By the parade of bright

Windows thought opens:

Their seamless presence

Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time

Gone and time emerging,

We manage seldom

To be where we are:

Whereas they are always

Looking out from

The here and now.

May we learn to return

And rest in the beauty

Of animal being,

Learn to lean low,

Leave our locked mind,

And with freed senses

Feel the earth

Breathing with us.

May we enter

Into lightness of spirit,

And slip frequently into

The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence

Of our animal being

Cleanse our heart

Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk

Upon the earth

With all their confidence

And clear-eyed stillness

So that our minds

Might be baptized

In the name of the wind

And the light and the rain.

John O’Dononhue

The picture above is my animal guide, Zeke. One of Zeke’s greatest qualities is his patience and his focus. He is always OK with waiting. Isn’t it interesting that these are not two of my greatest virtues? Zeke has much to teach me. He is such a gentle teacher, always leading by example. What do the animal beings in your life have to teach you?


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! Are you serious with that picture? How am I supposed to not want him even more now?

I am not blessed with my own furry friend but I am living with my dog in law at the moment. He is an amazing source of calm for me. When I get upset he is by my side. He gets as close as possible and snuggles in. He helps me calm down in a way I have never felt before. It's actually quite amazing to me. He is the single greatest thing that has come from moving to Texas! :0)
love you....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Nichol, Remember the first time you ever saw him? I do. He's a heart breaker. : )


Lindaa said...

It is so great to see how John’s work continues to weave “words of love . . . an invisible cloak, to mind your life.” I also want to support you in sharing that inspiration and love. And I am responsible for minding the technicalities connected with the preservation of John’s estate and literary legacy. John’s family would be very grateful if you would add to your quote a note that gives the copyright attribution ( © John O’Donohue. All rights reserved.) – along with a link to the web site: — so that those who want to know more about John can come to us?

warmly and with gratitude,

Dan Gurney said...

That's a lovely blessing. I've been blessed with furry friends; all of them have journeyed to the other side now and live on in my heart. And yes, animal nowness helps us to learn focus and patience.

Over the past year or so I've become increasingly fascinated by, appreciative of, and yes, bowled over by plant spirituality/wisdom/intelligence (we don't really have words for it). Plant intelligence, I am coming to realize, is subtler, vaster, deeper, more creative--and quite different from--animal intelligence.

Barbara said...

My little Persian brothers are rather different from one another. Humphrey is the extrovert and Bogart is the introvert. Both teach me about gratitude for the simple things in life -- food, a clean litter box, cuddles, a warm spot to snooze. Bogart teaches me about patience during trials. He is always sweet no matter what health problems he has faced. Humphrey is the empath and has sought to console me when he sees me sad. I am only beginning to learn from them.


Rebecca -

I find it interesting that John's family monitors all of our wonderful praise and honorings of his work. It must be amazing to realize the legacy his short life has given the world. How proud, awakened, and encouraged we are by his works. I know no one who would ever think to offer anything of his without proper credit and in the blog world, I'm not always sure that a copyright referral is necessary.....

I pulled out the little book to which you prefer earlier this week to read it again - so full, so rich!


Rebecca Johnson said...

Linda, I will be happy to do so in the future and you cannot know how grateful I am to John O'Donohue and the infinite blessings that he left to this world.


Rebecca Johnson said...

Dan, I have been very, very deeply drawn to trees lately, but hadn't taken it much further than that in the plant kingdom. But, yes, I see how much they have to teach me. And we are surrounded by such an abundance of teachers here! Thanks for your thoughts.


Rebecca Johnson said...

Barbara, May you have many, many happy years with your Zen masters. I never tire of seeing their pictures and hearing of their exploits and trials. I look forward to hearing more and more about what they are teaching you.


Rebecca Johnson said...

SS, I have questions, too, about how it is best to give credit to an author. I certainly wonder about needing to connect to websites. Do you have any idea where that copyright symbol is on the computer? I don't see one on mine.


Anonymous said...

Yes Rebecca i remember perfectly the first time I met Zeke. He was the stroybook puppy. The one all children (and most Adults) dream of. He never out grew that!

lucy said...

so lovely, rebecca. do you have a mac? i know you want an ipad :-) the copyright symbol is created by clicking the "alt option" key and the "G" at the same time. yes, G not C :-)

before i read your post here, i wrote my own tribute to my little Zen master, aslan. we truly can learn so much from these blessed creatures.

this is my favorite line of john's:

"May we enter

Into lightness of spirit,

And slip frequently into

The feel of the wild." © o'donohue