Categories
dog trust

Lessons From My Dog

Renly enjoying the beach. Cornwall August 2022

My dog is now 11 years old but he doesn’t realise it which is why you can see him leaping around like a puppy here on the beach. My dog, like most dogs, loves life and makes the most of things.

It struck me on New Year’s Eve how much I could learn from my dog. Renly is frightened of fireworks and has got more scared as time has gone on. But he never worries about it in advance. Around the beginning of November he sits cuddled on my lap as the world explodes outside and then goes to sleep. Because I’ve been full of flu I was in bed at 10pm on 31sst December, with the dog asleep by my side. We woke at midnight to the fireworks going off. He trembled next to me. The fireworks finished and he went back to sleep. He did not stay awake and worry about whether that was it, whether there would be more, whether things would be more scary. He went back to sleep.

There are other things he is afraid of – like big dogs. He was attacked twice by big dogs and so when he sees them he barks loudly at them. But he isn’t anxious before he goes out worrying about who he might see. Every time we go out he is so excited to be going. There is no fear of being attacked, of seeing someone he doesn’t like. Yes he is fearful when he sees a dog similar to the ones that attacked him but it is only in that moment.

So Lesson ONE – don’t be anxious about anything.

Lesson TWO – only worry about what is happening at the time. Deal with the moment and then move on.

Even when out he doesn’t stay nervous after seeing a big dog, or after hearing fireworks, or being frightened by some noise. The fear is in the moment, dealt with and then he moves on to the next part of the adventure.

Lesson THREE – is trust the one who cares for you. With the fireworks Renly fully trusts that if he snuggles up close to me that I will look after him and even though I don’t make the noises go away I am there for him. On walks he can be loud and barky towards these big dogs because even though there were two occasions when I didn’t manage to step in in time every other time I’ve been there for him. And even with the two occasions I did stop things getting horrid. I need to be trusting God and the Universe like that. Knowing that yes sometimes bad things to happen, but that I can snuggle under God’s wing and be protected by them. I don’t have to sort the world out on my own but can just stay safe and out the way.

So my intention for this year is to become more like my dog – to live in the moment, to not be anxious about anything, deal with things as and when they are happening but not outside those times, and to trust that God/the Universe has my back and that I can trust in my heart in all things, leaning into God when I need to and knowing they are there for me.

Categories
honest open

Say It As It Is

Beach at Rhosneiger, Angelsey.

It is that time of year when I slow down on my postings. I’ve got a job freelancing in a local high school and potential for another one. That means lots of prep and lots of waiting for funding to be approved. I find it quite tense and I have to honest with myself about that. There is no point saying I still feel creative when actually my head is elsewhere. Also with Christmas coming up I get a bit panicky about it. Silly things like feeling like I don’t have enough time to do what I need to do, see who I want to see, buy the gifts I’d like, etc. So again I have to be honest with myself.

I have just read “My Brother’s Name is Jessica“, which is about a younger brother dealing with his feelings about his older brother wanting to transgender. The parents are busy with the mother’s career in politics and they want to pretend nothing is going on. The part that, for me, opens up the whole story is when Sam shouts at the journalists who are asking probing questions about Jason, the older brother, “My brother’s name is Jessica“. I was on a train and I sobbed. For me it was then that everything comes out into the open. There is no more hiding. No more pretending everything is alright. Everything is in the open. It is at that point that things change. I won’t say any more because it will spoil the story and I would say this is a “must read”. It is one of the few books I have read this year in one sitting.

Too often we try to hide things, pretend everything is alright, hid the truth. I was working some 12-13 years old kids the other day and we were looking at the Stevie Smith poem “Not Waving but Drowning” and how too often not only are we drowning but smiling, but also we often pretend that other people are just waving so we don’t have to ask how they are, don’t have to be open with them. As with the novel it was not just that the rest of the family didn’t want to understand what Jason/Jessica was going through they also had things in themselves they didn’t want to look at.

I think sometimes we do worry that if we are open about how we feel that we have to live out that. So say I say that I feel sad/angry/jealous [those are feelings I often have to deal with especially this time of year] then maybe I worry that I can’t then be happy/content, etc. But, as I’m sure I’ve said in another post, it is possible to acknowledge our feelings, the feelings of others, but it doesn’t mean we have to “live on that island”. All of us live with nuances of a bit of this and a bit of that. It is also why I don’t like to call feelings positive or negative feelings. They are just feelings. Being angry is as true a feeling as being happy. They are both full on real feelings that come from a place of me and what I carry. But if I hide those and then wave away then I am pretending even to myself that I am not really drowning.

So like Sam with his feelings of what is going on with his brother/sister let us be open and say it as it is. Let us be willing to say “I love you because you are you but I need some help getting my head round why you are doing what you are doing“. Let us being willing to say “this is hard work and I need some help because I really want to get some understanding around this“.

Let us all learn to be honest, to say it as it is, but also to know we don’t have to live isolated on that island of confusion. We are all able to change, to learn, to move onward, and to love each other and the process.

As the sea will move over those rocks in the above picture and will change the way the beach looks as it moves the sand, stones and wares away the rocks, so we can move, change and be smoothed if we allow God/The Universe to roll over us. And also to reach out to each other. We are not alone in this, but it can feel like that if we keep quiet and pretend that we are waving when in fact we are drowning.

Categories
Holy Spirit Limpet

Blown By The Spirit

Photographed by myself, Diane Woodrow, whilst I was walking the dog this morning. It was from here that a poem emerged
Abergwyngregyn nature reserve June 2022

This morning I did my regular walk Abergwyngregyn nature reserve. I do this every couple of weeks. It is close enough to home but far enough away that I don’t see anyone I know. It also has a great dog friendly cafe in the village.

I walked and made notes and something about the limpet shells floated past me so I took some photos of them. Since publishing Inspirations From Walking in North Wales and getting such a positive response from those who bought it at the Abergele Arts Festival last weekend, I have been encouraged to work on a new collection.

So I had a few words and ideas about these limpets. I’ve recently done a QEC session around holding tightly to cliques/groups/tribes who are not good for me. So even though these thoughts were not foremost in my mind because when I do this walk I can just let my thoughts wander these things joined together.

But then what came next was James 3:8 where Jesus says to Nicodemus “The wind blows where it wants, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.“. This comes after Jesus has told Nicodemus he must be “born again”. It is interesting but I have heard many preaches about being born again but very few of being blown wherever the Holy Spirit wills.

But as I pondered the limpet, the letting go of being in toxic groups and of being blown by the spirit, I came up with this poem

No longer holding tightly just to survive

Letting go was not as painful as you thought.

You drifted for a while until you came to land.

Now you lie and let the elements do their work on you.

Day by day, week by week,

with scrunch of food and pound of wave

slowly you are changed.

Then one day you wake and find you are small grains of sand.

It is then and only then

that the wind can pick you up

and blow you where it will

Too often, I think, we wonder why we are not freely flowing within the Holy Spirit. But I do wonder if that is because we are holding on to tightly to the rocks and things like limpets when in fact we should be letting the Creator of the Universe do their stuff and change us into something small enough that can be blown by with gentle wind of the Spirit.