Life goes on…
I was wracked with guilt and sadness and I couldn’t get over it. All my human efforts, common sense, and reasoning brought no results, no relief from my mental distress. I was stuck in a dark place, and my thoughts were obsessed with it. I really needed to find my peace and move forward. It was only a dog, after all.
Yeah, but that dog was one of my brightest joys and most loyal companions. I loved her with all my heart. I finally did get my peace, but it wasn’t until I allowed myself to go beyond my functional, yet limiting, view of things and accept a deeper, more spiritual reality.
I was helping my husband get his wheelchair-bound mother into the car for a doctor’s appointment when our feisty two-year old Sharpei-mix got away from me. I was coming back from a long walk with her on a retractable leash. Spying my MIL (Mother-In-Law) getting rolled out of the house, I quickly hooked the leash on the railing and jumped in to hold the door. Moments later the dog was speeding through the yard with the leash trailing behind her. We were half-way down the stairs when I heard my MIL say anxiously, “quick, go grab her. I’ll wait here.” Oh how she loved that dog! They spent a lot of time together in her kitchen baking and snacking and talking. She knew that Roxy was a ball of fire, still in training. She needed A LOT more training.
I assured my MIL that I’d catch up with the dog as soon as we got her in the car. But, I didn’t catch up with her. In fact, Roxy was long gone way before we got down the stairs. For several hours after they drove away, I searched high and low for the dog. She was nowhere to be found. We live in a very rural area on a 54 acre campground, located on the bluffs of a river, surrounded by woods, farms, fields, and more woods, farms, and fields. It was March and still very cold. The winds blew daily and temps still dipped into the low 30s.
We looked for her everywhere, every day. We got on our bicycles and rode down every gravel road calling for her. No Roxy. It snowed. We put a Lost Dog ad in local newspapers with a picture of our sweet Roxy-doodle. No one called. We got in our cars and drove to neighbors houses to see if she had showed up. No one saw her. It sleeted. Friends rode their four-wheelers and searched areas we couldn’t reach. She was nowhere to be found. The winds blew.
The winter days felt cold and heartless. Every day that passed, I struggled with more guilt and worry. If only I had gone after her right away? She was probably stuck somewhere freezing to death. Or maybe a hungry pack of coyotes tracked her down. Or maybe someone found her and took her home for themselves? The vicious cycle of heinous scenarios tormented me. I couldn’t focus on my work. I couldn’t talk about it without crying. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything that didn’t involve searching for the dog. Oh God, I pleaded, help me.
After seven days, my SIL invited my husband and I to a family dinner at her house about 10 miles away. Of course, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to talk about Roxy’s disappearance. I didn’t want to talk about anything with anyone. But I also knew I couldn’t go on like this forever. I reluctantly agreed. On the car ride over, I closed my eyes and silently, fervently reached out to God for help: I really need to find peace with this, Father. I just want to feel peace.
The next thought came instantly, wherever she is, she’s safe in Spirit. Whether someone scooped her up for themselves or she’s passed on or she’s stuck somewhere… she lives and moves and has her being in Spirit, in the kingdom of heaven. I didn’t think up those thoughts myself; they were just suddenly there, in my thinking. I considered where I may have heard them before. They’re in a Bible story when Jesus’ disciple Paul is talking to the people of Athens about their unknown gods. He says something like, Hey! why are you spending so much time and effort worshipping all these gods and statues. They can’t help you, they’re mindless, powerless ideals. We are spiritual beings. God made us and the world and everything in it, therefore, “in him we live, and move, and have our being… For we are also his offspring” (Acts).
At once, I felt a glimmer of relief from my week-long debilitating angst. I knew it was true. That as the offspring of Spirit, Roxy is spiritual. And that meant she was and is safe in the spiritual kingdom of heaven right now, wherever she is! However, it took me a minute (or 20) to actually accept this truth as real… to let myself go there… to allow my view to shift from a material-based belief to the spiritual reality of all things… to trust that the allness of Spirit is true—here and now. By the time we got out of the car at my in-laws, I felt like myself again. Just like that.
We had a lovely meal and interesting dinner conversation. When my BIL asked if I had found the dog, I could, with certainty, say yes I did, that she was and is safe in Spirit because her life is in Him. I was able to confidently and calmly share what I had come to know about God and life on the way over. Several family members shared their relief with an enthusiastic Amen! Others shared favorite memories of Roxy and her spunky antics. I felt happy and completely free.
Later, in thinking about how I was instantly healed of this oppressive mental state, I remembered something I read in the chapter “Footsteps of Truth” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free! This is your divine right.” (Eddy). I realized that when I accepted the truth of existence as spiritual and harmonious, I was freed from the imprisoning claims of the false material senses.
A week later, on a beautiful crisp sunny March day, an eager camper who visited the campground to check on his seasonal trailer that was stored there over the winter, found the dog. He spotted her as he stood on his porch steps looking down the bluffs toward the river—still tied to the retractable leash, caught up on a large fallen tree branch. My husband called me at the house, “hey, they found Roxy” he said. “Awwh, ok, can you take care of it, please?” I knew he’d find a nice place for her in one of the nearby wooded fields, appropriately close to some sassy wild flowers. “I guess” he replied, “but can I send her up to eat first. She looks really hungry.”
Flash forward many joy-filled playful years later, when that ball of fire passed on, I did not spend my time or effort worshipping the unknown gods of grief, sadness, and despair. I already knew that she was, and always would be, living large in the safety of Spirit, wherever she is.