Living beyond the city limits I see unwanted dogs being dumped out weekly. Some find their way to my home. When a large, black and white spotted pup found his way to my door I took up with him right away. His eyes were bright and gentle and his ears perked quickly at the sound of a kind voice. Funny, I had just bought a black and white polka dot purse, so like my polka dot purse, I named him Polka Dot. He loved and was loved. My false, soap opera ego was disarmed by Love masquerading as a canine in a polka dot suit.
One day about 5 months later he came up on the porch sick, very sick. I felt totally helpless and fearful because his breathing was so labored. I gently spoke to him and stroked him with my loving hands. He could not breathe and then suddenly he just seemed to surrender the struggle. He rose, turned and slowly walked down the steps and headed for the corner of the house that leads to the backyard. As he reached the corner he paused, turned around to look back at me and then walked on as if he knew where he was inevitably bound. Around the corner, he laid his body down and died. What pulled my heart strings was that I just knew he was saying bye to me with love and gratitude. I can still see his sweet, gentle brown eyes as he turned back to look on his way out of this world.
Love sometime seems to be hidden; but where can it go? Its fragrance lingers to soften our hearts. Love remains. That’s exactly what Polka Dot brought into my life – yes, love embodied in a 4-legged canine earthly body. Thank you, sweet Polka Dot for your visit and for reminding me of what really counts in my life.
As I was sitting with the director of Emerson Funeral Home in Jonesboro, Arkansas making plans for my body’s cremation, he asked my religion. After a pause to give the question careful consideration, I answered, “I am religiousness”.
By religiousness I mean that the human being as he is is not enough. We can be enormously more. Whatever a human being is is only a seed. We do not know what potential we are carrying in ourselves. Religiousness is simply a challenge to grow, a challenge for the seed to come to the ultimate peak of expression, to burst forth in thousands of flowers and release the fragrance that was hidden in it. That fragrance I call religiousness. It has nothing to do with our so called religions; it has nothing to do with churchman. It has something to do with you and your possibilities of growth. Religions can disappear but religiousness is something interwoven into existence itself. It is the beauty of the sunrise. It is the beauty of a bird on the wing. It is the beauty of an opening lotus. It is all that is thoughtful, all that is sincere and authentic, all that is truthful, loving and compassionate. It includes everything that pulls you upwards and keeps reminding you that you have yet far to go. Every place that you stop for a rest is only a restful night and in the morning we go again on the pilgrimage – the eternal pilgrimage.
A glimpse of my truth is described beautifully in a poem by Kabir, “I will give back the pure soul that was given to me at the time of my birth as pure, as clean as it was given to me. I will give it back that way when I die.”
Remaining watchful, today I became aware of my childlike innocence as I entered into play with four children. We five children agreed to play Indians. One of the boys was 11 years of age and is gradually but systematically being programmed by everything and everyone. I noticed he kept his distance, so I selected him to be one of the Indian powwow leaders. He then entered into his innocent self. We all donned our Indian head-gear, gathered in a circle and appointed an Indian princess. We banged drums, played flutes, beat tambourines (I played my harmonica); we ate sunflower seeds, made peace signs and united in Indian calls with flourishing imagination. We were having big group fun on the safety of my front porch.
Just as conditioning and conforming creates a made-up identity, my spontaneous day led me to die to my made-up self and to once more become an innocent child with freedom to express the simplicity of being and to play and have fun. As I Corinthians 15:31 says … I die every day.
Three years ago, I was transported to the state of Arkansas to live in nature and the natural state. Last April, as I was driving through the early rush of Nature’s spring time with two other friends, a giant naked tree standing to my left caught my eye. It had enormous branches reaching out from the fat trunk and it seem to be pointing in every direction. In total silence, it was reaching out everywhere—around–up–down–side ways. This momentary glimpse opened me to my New World. In silence, I saw my self naked—open to everything.
I am here now–standing as that tree–naked within. I am standing unclothed in my 83 year-old body! No past to mock me, accuse me, teach me. I am free in this new world, hearing and feeling in silence. This is the new start that I have longed for–to be able to stand with no opposites or duality–no two, just ONE standing. In silence NAKED, letting it all hang out in total innocence, allowing myself to be possessed by Nature’s NAKED TREE. I can call it surrender, to a new space that I cannot control or a jumping off place. I can sprout green leaves to share without an agenda, letting others come and rest in leafy branches without trying to fix them; just being NOTHING–naked in love, arms reaching, embracing, being who I AM.