Today’s Word from Rev. David Bieniek…  

This was a blog I wrote my first month on Whidbey Island, back in July 2010. Sadly, two of the dogs have since passed on, but their lessons for me continue…

I remember seeing a cartoon that showed a man talking to his dog. The thought bubble above the dog’s head read, “Blah, blah, blah, treat, blah, blah.” I am quite sure our dogs would never think that when we are talking to them. In addition to “treat,” our dogs know hungry, food, walk, and occasionally sit, stay, and shake. I used the “w-word” this morning, and they were ready! Within a few minutes, leashes were on, coffee was in a travel mug, and we were off.

We cross a busy street on the way to the woods near the house. They stay on the leash as we enter the woods, partially because that is one of the rules of the trail, but also because I don’t quite trust them if we round a corner and find a rabbit or deer. One distraction, and I would be abandoned.

As we enter the woods, I am immediately struck by the darkness. This is mid-morning by now, and still there is a darkness and stillness. The Czech philosopher, Kafka, said that in the forest, darkness does not fall, but rises up from the ground. I realize that daylight seems to follow the opposite path. The sun needs to be high in the sky before it illuminates the floor.

Sometimes it is that way in our spiritual lives. We may not notice the blessings at our fingertips until something above catches our attention, and we feel the warmth on our heads to remind us that the goodness is always there. Our roots begin to feel the warmth of love and blessing, as the light bathes us from above. If only we could recognize that we are always bathed in peace and blessings, perhaps we could then spread that to those close to us.

Deeper into the woods, there is a log that has fallen across the path. The dogs deftly jump the log as I step over and realize that it is a doorway into a different world. We are now surrounded by sights, smells, and sounds that are new and fresh and different. My senses are alive to the world around me. Even the coffee that I have struggled to keep in the travel mug, tastes sweeter and more soothing.

Our senses are not only the connection to the physical world, but our senses can also be our entry to deeper spiritual life. Many spiritual writers have noted the importance of being open to the Divine through smells, visions, and sounds in the world around us. And this morning heightens my awareness of the blessings all around me.

As we continue our walk, I notice the beauty in these cathedral-like woods. Like ancient spiritual places, they draw our eyes heavenward. The striking difference between the deep green of the trees and the azure blue sky invites a sense of peace. The contrasting colors remind me that it is possible to find beauty and peace in a world where war and hatred is all around.

If you can, take a walk today, either with a furry companion, with a socially distant friend, or even by yourself. Be open to finding the blessings at your footfall. Use your senses to discover God’s grandeur all around.

I will continue this walk with our dogs in my next installment. I hope you will tune in…

Rev. Dave Bieniek

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