Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Namaste: To Truly See Another


I do not know where the photo above originated. A friend shared it on Facebook, but the site identified neither the photographer nor the subject of the photograph*. The picture is heartwarming and engaging, as I think anyone would agree. When I saw it, my first impression was that this is a true greeting toward a sentient being. The boy is taking delight in meeting another creature, bowing in honor of the life made manifest in the dog. Likewise, the dog seems to be returning the honor. The picture speaks to me of namaste: the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.

A Dog's Blessing

The day after I saw this photo, Mr. Higgins came to me in a dream. He looked me in the eye as I reached down to scratch the back of his ear. Mr. Higgins was a shepherd-border collie mix who graced my life almost thirty years ago. He and I spent our first day together getting to know one another when he was a pup. We actually picked one another out when I went to choose from the litter of pups. His choosing me was as important as my choosing him. We spent our last day together 14 years later, taking one last walk after I carried him down the steps (he could no longer get up on his own or maneuver steps, but could walk once he was aided to a standing position).

Walking at my side on a lead had always been the proudest of moments for Higgins when we walked through the neighborhood or down to Flora Johnston Park on Shades Creek. On that final day, we took one more walk around the backyard, and though it was a short walk, he held his head up and mustered that same pride while we made our way around the yard. I could see that he was thrilled to be on a walk! We also spent time together in the living room. I sat down on the floor beside him where we could be present to one another for a while before making that ride to the veterinarian's office.

I wrote an essay, Living with Virtue, recounting some of my life with Mr. Higgins. My wife told me, and has told others the same thing, that when she saw how I raised Higgins, she was reassured that I could do a good job as father to a child and that it would be okay to get pregnant. So in a way, Mr. Higgins was instrumental in bringing our greatest joy into the world, assuring us that we could be parents. Little wonder that I would have an ever so brief dream about him all these years later.

Respect for All of Life

When I see the boy and the dog in the photo, I am reminded of the respect that we should accord our fellow sentient creatures. I am reminded of the blessing that our creature companions can bring us. I am also reminded of our duty to offer love and care to the world around us and the creatures therein.  

Today, I offer the example of this young boy – whoever he is, wherever he lives – as a beacon to us all to greet one another with honor and love, and to offer that same grateful greeting to our creature companions.

And thanks again, Mr. Higgins, for a life well-lived and for all the times well-spent. Namaste.

Mr. Higgins: 1987 - 2001


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* The photo at the top was identified simply as “Weird world’s photo” on Facebook.


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