Friday, July 31, 2015

How Did a Hound Dog From Kentucky End Up in Our Back Yard?

Here I am sitting on the patio watching our 5 month old rescue dog Wali play ball with a joyful abandonment that only a puppy can display.  His new German shepherd friend Abby patiently rolls around on the ground with him as he hops from side to side, tail wagging.  

Wali is predominantly a Plott Hound (we think)—charming as all get out with keen observation skills and a large dose of wisdom thrown into the mix.  Hes also a cuddler.  What a guy!
Yet I cant help but ask, “How did this hound dog from Kentucky end up in our back yard?  How did he get from ‘thereto ‘here?”  And most importantly as I write, what might this question have to do with not just me, but a lot of us other folks here on planet Earth when examined from a spiritual perspective? What in Gods name does God have to do with this? 
At first blush, it seems so simple—a series of individual, linear events pieced together where Louisville, Kentucky was the starting point and Bath, Ohio the end of the road.  Dog born, put in pound (hopefully for adoption and not death).  Rescue group from Kentucky connects with northeast Ohio animal lovers.   Volunteer and vet tech named Beth takes an extra look at Wali and says, “Well take this one.”  Beth fosters Wali at home and takes him to work regularly where he can become socialized.
That got Wali to Ohio.  And then there was me. . .

I walked into my vets to purchase medications for our cat.  There was this puppy walking around behind the office counter.  The plans were to put him up for adoption the following day at a rescue event.
I wasnt worried I would do anything so crazy as to purchase a dog on the spot.  I had been to a rescue open house a couple of weeks before and had resisted attempts by the sponsors to even consider any of the available dogs.  Our eleven year old dog Sophie had suddenly passed away four months previously and we just werent ready for another dog, especially my husband Joe (his exact words were, “no more dogs”).

All that pain after such a loss.  A real risk to open oneself up again.  And if we ever did get a dog, we wanted another yellow lab--definitely a female. We still had one dog.  Perhaps that was enough. But puppies, especially this one, look irresistible.

Im not one who questions Gods hand in everyday life events.  But I do have a never-ending fascination and admiration with how absolutely ingenious the Divine and all those Holy Helpers on the Other Side can be.  How does God design the perfect plan so that a lonely little puppy from Kentucky finds his way into a grieving familys heart in Ohio?
I contemplate that Walis journey to Ohio wasnt just a bunch of random events.  Rather, they were really a series of choice points and decisions by a lot of people trying to “do right” by wanting to place a living creature in a place of safety and love.  I believe this noble intent and energy allowed Spirit to move forward, creating a whole host of opportunities for good things to happen. And I realize, more than ever, that God does a lot of good things that get us from “there” to “here” if we give the Divine freedom to act.

In life, I repeatedly am shown that Divine rules are pretty simple.  Theres Gods job and theres my job.  Too often, my action-oriented, control freak self tries to do it all.  Im good, but Im not that good.  And you know how we humans can mess up things when we insist on having things our way.  In comes limited solutions, out goes Divine possibilities.
Yet when I allow (and “allow” is the key word) the Divine to do Divine work, and when I remain open to suggestions and listen to the inner, intuitive (rather than ego centered) voice within me—well. . .downright magic and miracles occur.  No kidding. The process isnt that complicated.

Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”  Well, God may laugh at our plans, but I dont think God ever laughs at our heart’s desires—those inner longings that are imbedded in the essence of our souls, that when they manifest in our lives, bring us much joy, peace, or love.

So no, I dont believe Wali just “landed” in Ohio.  Somehow the Divine responded to my cry in the darkness, just not in the way I had expected nor on my timelines.
If a hound dog from Kentucky can end up in my back yard and bring so much joy after such a devastating loss, what else is possible?   Its an especially good question for me, and perhaps others, to ask when hard times hit and the only view we can see is the one that spirals painfully downward.  

Walis gentle presence reminds me in a very concrete way that the Divine can only do so much without human cooperation.  I managed to pay attention this time and the result was far better than expected.  I really ought to practice these behaviors more often.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Beginning. . .

Hello to all of you out there in cyberspace and welcome to My Listening Project blog—a place to contemplate, explore, and share thoughts about the many aspects of listening, particularly as it relates to how each and every one of us is capable of tuning into the inner voice within—the one that speaks from the stillness of the heart.  

Im hoping in the coming months and years for all of us to get to know one another a lot better.  As a person who is of the “old school” tradition of face to face interactions, this blogging is new stuff for me.  I think Im going to really like it!

Until recently, most of my career was spent as a facilitator having workplace conversations with groups of co-workers throughout the United States.  The reason I loved my job so much was that I not only got to meet new people from all walks of life who fascinated and taught me through their interesting experiences and stories, but that I was also able to continue many of those relationships throughout the years.

As Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  I really do think we can learn a lot from one another.  The act of listening is one of those things that has a tendency to unite rather than divide, for who among us has not longed to have a listener in our lives—particularly one that comes from a Divine Source. 
We may have different perspectives on what “God” looks like but if viewed from a spiritual, rather than religious context, we can recognize that there are many paths to the One God, with each of us having a direct line to that Universal Source.  So the truth is, Im really excited about our newly developing relationship, for now these conversations potentially include folks from around the globe!

Over the past few years Ive personally learned a lot about how I can become a better listener in my relationship with God.  I now realize this is a journey which really never ends, at least until its my time to cross over to the Other Side.
In my experience, this listening journey takes both head and heart working together.  Yes, it takes practiced skills to become a better listener, with God or anyone else, but it also takes a mighty, big, and open heart.  To be honest, the heart work is a lot more challenging for me at times.

                    Making a pizza in Italy.  I swear I meant for it to be round.  
                                     Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something!

Over the past few years, as I have become more present to the whole act of listening, I discovered the many ways God sends me guidance and why, when, and how I block that guidance.  Very importantly, I realize the value of a “toolkit” to help me survive the difficult times, particularly when I long to hear or feel something sacred, and all I feel is silence
I also observed that the better listener I am with God, the better listener I am with others.  Most of all I realize that if I want to hear God, I should be still and look around.  Divine guidance is at my fingertips and endless, if I dont limit my possibilities.  As a result of these insights, my awareness is sharper regarding the many ways God calls me to pay attention—whether to people, animals, or nature—but I still have a lot to learn.
So please come back to My Listening Project blog again!  I hope that you will not only be able to relate to some of my stories, thoughts, and available resources about listening to the Divine voice within, but also that this blog will help you to explore your own internal listening journey, one that works especially for you, for that is what truly matters most. 

Christine C. Williams