At St. Anne's Homeless Shelter MOM and I often see people with their dogs. Recently we saw a man sitting with his dog on the curb in front of the shelter. While MOM and I are always touched by this scene, there was something that lit up our hearts. There was a serenity and beauty about it. St. Anne's sits on a major road in our city and it is just a block away from historic 25th street where there are many trendy restaurant and bars and cool little shops. And there are people going about their day, work, errands, going to lunch, stuff like that. MOM and I were rushing into the shelter to drop off some stuff. So I guess we were rushing about too, or at least MOM was. But the beauty of this man sitting with his dog made my MOM stop.
MOM was taken in by the pure kindness and obvious love this man and his dog shared. MOM talked to the man for a while and petted his sweet companion. Seeing my MOM talk with this man and his dog, Rosie was her name I think, I thought about what I saw and what was being communicated.
It struck me what I believe, came to life and how it was so Christ like. Sometimes the simplicity and beauty of Christ’s message of love and our “oneness” gets lost. Sometimes it gets lost in the legalisms and dogmas of "religion". If you take this man and his dog and place them within the walls of some churches (or sitting on the curb outside) you have an image of annoyance. The man, and certainly his dog, would not be welcomed into what we call the Lord’s house, filled with worshiping people who are dressed more "appropriately" and with the belief that God gives them his full glory as they are in possession of the dress and “credentials" earned to be in such a place.
Maybe this man is not obedient to those things that would "qualify" him to obtain the "necessary" credentials to allow him to bask in God’s full glory from some perspectives. Yet the dog does not seem to care, and she holds nothing back from the man.
Some may see no useful purpose in the man’s life or actions. Some may judge him for his choices. If the man is noticed, some may see a man in need of saving and a shower and a shave. Yet they know nothing of him or his life, for they have not walked in his shoes. Let alone had a conversation with him.
But if one would look closely enough, you can find a teacher. A teacher that brings awareness of the Divine that not only exists within him and the dog, but in their selves as well. A reminder of the oneness that we all share, once the layers of a mind caught in the narratives that separate one from the other are stripped away. Revealing our naked beauty through his naked beauty. What greater gift could he give, what greater worth could he exhibit?
Moments like that bring me to the realization that Christ exists within all and that teachers do not exist as a matter of appointment, authority, privilege, association, or sanctity. They are in our midst in many forms, speaking in one way to one and to another in another way. But this teaching asks nothing of us from a theological or doctrinal perspective. It is not “the thing”, it is simply a pointer. So it seems religion should be the same.
From where I sit, this dog and this man are the literal embodiment of Christ speaking to us directly. If Christ is not this, then what is he?
GoosePeee S- Not all photos were taken by my MOM, but were used with permission.