That Attentive, Loving Gaze

This precious puppy greeted me Saturday morning as I was walking in the early morning, taking photos at a retreat I attended.  It’s almost a miracle that he was still for this one second and looked right at my camera, because otherwise he was one adorable bundle of puppy love, tail wagging, wiggling his entire little body.  Though he never barked or made one sound, he was all over me, putting his damp paws on my legs, licking my hand, running in circles around me.   And this is his ready to pounce come and play with me pose.

If I had been at home, I think I would have tried to adopt him.  Maybe.  The cats would have had their own committee meeting and voted him out very quickly.

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Sometimes we receive lessons in the most surprising places, totally unexpected, little moments that pass quickly by, but often have an impact.  This puppy moment was one of those.

Puppy represented all the goodness I had been experiencing at that retreat:

  • Welcoming love and unconditional acceptance.  He greeted me as though I was his best friend. He had no care in the world about where I came from or what I may have done or what I believe.
  • Sacred silence.  Okay, there was the sound of his little paws on the sidewalk, but not one peep otherwise.  I had spent a lot of time in contemplative silence at this place, which made it a true ‘retreat’ for me.
  • Trust. Puppy rolled over and showed me his soft underbelly for some scratching and petting.  But at this retreat, there were brave souls who trusted us to hear their story, who allowed us to listen. 
  • The attentive, loving gaze. Yes, those brown eyes had me wrapped around his little paws.  I learned a lot at this retreat about how we long for that attentive, loving gaze from The Holy, and how one can grow in the light of that gaze. 
I believe that The Holy comes to us in various ways. In the sacred silence. In the deep conversations with others. In the words of a book, or the lyrics of a song, or a scene in a movie. The Holy uses these times to help us understand something, maybe clarify an issue we have struggled with, or open our eyes and hearts to what we need to know.
How does this happen for you?  Have you had a surprise moment that just made it all click into place?  
*   *   *

The retreat was the first in a series of events I will be attending over the next three years, as a student in the Souljourners Program.   My plan is to share this journey with you here, in photos and words.   

Because, you know, I’m still learning as I go.   And there is so much to learn.

7 Replies to “That Attentive, Loving Gaze”

  1. Finding the Holy in unexpected places is a lesson I learn over and over. Being attentive is most conducive to Mindfulness for me – so much time is wasted in a flurry of busy-ness. Your little teacher is very cute.

  2. Who could resist that look? My dogs bring so much laughter and comfort into my life. As far as feeling in the midst of a Holy place or Holy moment, oddly for this introvert, that happens with an impromptu conversation or even a passing "Isn't it a beautiful day" comment from a stranger I'm on the train with, waiting in line with at a store, or simply passing by. I think it's those moments that make me feel our shared humanity.

    1. Maery, thank you for sharing your thoughts. How beautiful that you experience that "shared humanity" even in simple little conversations that come your way. That makes me think of how even small comments we make in passing can have a big impact on anyone in our path.

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