My dog Kai is so often my teacher. He seems so quiet and unobtrusive, and yet he sits on the carpet and looks back at me from time to time asking, with his eyes, if I am ok. Or perhaps I am just projecting that question onto him.
The thing is, we are ok. Life can be hard. But we are good and not evil. Life can take turns which can be both lovely and painful. But in the end I am convinced that our suffering is essential for our training in kindness and compassion – a sentiment woven throughout our scriptures.
The very word “Israel,” the name of the people out of whom Jesus’ body emerged, is translated “wrestles with God.” And we do. And sometimes we even get hurt. But I never engage people with whom I want no relationship. I wrestle with people I want to be close to. I work hard at friendship – something Kai seems to do so naturally and for which he is my living icon.
Kai sits there as if in constant communion with the Divine. And though I went to a monastery seeking that way of life, I found that the only way to reach it is in the silence of the morning. In other words, our monastery (our aloneness with god :”monos”= alone) is the time we give to silence with God.
It is in that silence of waiting, sitting, being with God that God can wander the halls of my soul, pointing things out to me. They are pointed out because I am awake to the pointing. Sure, one may choose to dull God’s voice with all sorts of anesthesia – work, alcohol, drugs, shopping, relationships, porn, food, annoyances, resentments; even endless, spaceless liturgical words – but in the end, God waits, in the silence, for a chance to attend to our listening.
In the mean time, Kai sits there, looking at me, seeming to invite the sitting for which my soul longs. And when I show up – when I light that candle, pour that tea, sit in that darkness – I can see and hear and feel the God who so often hides in the cleft of rocks as I careen by in my busyness – that idol I have constructed to feel in control.And still, as I am busy, God waits. God longs.