Occasionally, my dog Winston reminds me of who he is and most of the time it irritates me. Just a few minutes ago, he nudged me when he wanted me to go in a different direction. I yell at him because I surmise that “one day you are going knock me down.” He just looks at me. He’s a Miniature Australian Shepherd. It’s what they do. His breed likes to make sure they know where everyone in the house is and they are most at peace when the herd is all in one place. When more than three people are over, he is really just a hot mess—we have to put him in the bedroom because he drives everyone crazy. He also barks when he is outside and lets us know that people he hasn’t approved of yet are coming into our “area” and he seems to be saying, “Just thought I’d let you know that they were out there—cause I’m not sure what they are doing in our area, ya know—just thought I’d let you know by barking!” Again, when I yell at him, he just stares at me. It’s what he does.
I hate to compare God to my dog, but I would like to think God works in similar ways sometimes. My experience in the Tea Shop raised some very big questions for me. Like Winston, God seemed to be nudging me to change direction or alerting me to something I had never considered or just not considered in that way. To be honest, that bothers me a little. I have become more open, but a part of me still likes being certain about everything and knowing exactly what I believe. It didn’t all hit me right away. I was deeply moved by the experience, but I have been contemplating what happened for several months. Really, it just started with a question. After experiencing this man with no name in the Tea Shop, the question became “Where was God?” Because every indicator I have says God was in that guy in the Tea Shop who most likely was a Buddhist or atheist, but probably not a Christian. Every fruit of the spirit was exhibited in him. But, how can this be? What is the explanation?
Another friend nudged me this morning. My friend, Dr. Paul, raised another question, “Where is God NOT present?” Imagine me muttering to myself and wondering around my house with THAT question spinning around in my little brain. Is that my dog barking outside? I think I’ll just go out and join him. That’s a good question—No, that’s a great question! If God were to choose a place or a person to not inhabit, who or what would that be? In the United States, we assume that we are exceptional, and that God somehow favors us, especially those that have the right beliefs. But even if that were true, wouldn’t God be more interested in being with the less favored child than the one that already has it figured out? Wouldn’t God be most active in the “shit-hole” places that need his wisdom and compassion? Or does God wait for me to carry Him to those places? Was He only in the Tea Shop because I was there—I don’t think so! I got the impression that this dude was experiencing something he was familiar with, and I was the one that was blown away.
So, is God in everything? Another friend just suggested that maybe a better question is “Where is love?” Yeah, that’s another fantastic question! I’m going to start cussing soon. Oops, I already did! This is really upsetting my apple cart. God is love, so wherever love is would seem to be where God is. There’s a lot of references in the Bible to Christ being in us and in all things—it’s kind of hard to ignore, but every person from my previous religious life seems to be pretty good at it (ignoring it, that is!). We seemed to be good at classifying people as “other.” Richard Rohr kind of nudged me towards that one. When I recognize something God-like in that person, it gets harder to classify him differently than myself. I saw God “in” him! What I know to be God seemed to be there and in Him. Was he just possessed by God for a brief moment? Like I said, it didn’t appear that he was caught off guard. And what would be the purpose of that anyway? My old tradition would say that I need to convince him, not the other way around.
I understand just a little bit of Celtic Spirituality and often even less about what I hear when I listen to Richard Rohr. This article I read today from Rohr and what I know about Celtic Spirituality nudges me toward the idea of everything being sacred. When thinkers talk about the true self and that when we get beyond the container (or wineskin) of our false self, they describe what is called the TRUE self and generally they see God there! When people talk about consciousness, are they really talking about knowledge of God or just the characteristics of God? Does it even matter? Can you separate God from His nature? Are we closer in our beliefs that we are apart? And, if God is in creation, is there a part of it that He is not in?
I don’t think the guy in the Tea Shop was God, but I think God was in him! To be honest, that creates more questions than answers. But somehow, it seems to be nudging me closer to the truth. Winston never tackles me or tugs on my clothes like the guard dogs in the movies. I appreciate that about him, although I still must admit that like the nudges from others, it still ticks me off. My false self seems to resist the necessary growth that must happen for me to learn what is true. I don’t want questions, I want answers, but I must admit that I have drifted off course or maybe I didn’t ever know where I was going in the first place. What I do love is that these nudges and questions seem to be leading me to something more beautiful even if everything in me wants to resist.
So, now just picture me wandering off into the recesses of my house, cussing under my breath but occasionally stopping to look up and exclaim, “ohhh, hmmm, dammit!” I want to blame it on Winston again, but he’s already drifted off to sleep on the floor. Maybe I can teach him to talk…nah, that would probably just tick me off more. I’d probably see God in him. I think I need to go lay down.