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Whole Life Mentoring | Dr. Leighton Ford (Mentoring)

My Spiritual Director Dog

June 23, 2014

I have thought of my Australian Cattle Dog Wrangler as many things – a Blue Heeler, a curious and always hungry dog, a great buddy. But never as a spiritual director. That is, until this past Sunday.

It had been a very cold night so I let Wrangler sleep inside. When I woke and was saying a morning prayer he got just as close to me as he could, then went out to eat.

I continued a time of reflection, reading an article by David Benner on the practice of contemplative prayer – which he describes as the dance of “being with God.”

Prayer in all its forms is nothing more than a response to the Divine invitation
to friendship. Contemplative prayer is simply offering ourselves in faith and
openness to God, spending time in silence with our Beloved, who, we dare to
trust, longs to spend that time with us.

(David Benner. Being With God: The Practice of Contemplative Prayer.
Conversations. Fall 2006. Pages 6-12)

January had been a very, very full month and I had felt in a kind of spiritual fog much of the time. So his words struck home to my heart. But how was I to begin to re-practice God’s presence?

It was time to take Wrangler for a walk. He is usually so eager to bound out but this morning he was keeping very close step with me. For several weeks we had been going to dog training and together learning that when I say “with me” he is to stay right by me and not strain ahead. He is so strong and eager it has not been easy to learn!

But that’s exactly what he was doing. When we got to a favorite woodsy area and sat on a bridge in the sun he sat as close to me as he could, and put his head on my lap. I remembered how he did the same thing when we got up.

Wrangler wanted to be “with me.” Just to be together in the sun and quiet of that cold Sunday morning. When we walked I didn’t have to hold him back. When I sat he sat. There were no words at first. Just the warm feeling of each other’s company, and that we belonged together.

As Wrangler and I sat on the bridge I said over and over, “Be still and know that I am God.” He listened attentively to my voice.

And that’s when I realized Wrangler Blue Dog had been my spiritual director, at least for the day. He did not tell me what I had to do. He just showed me by his actions, without a word. It was as if
the Lord had told him, “Wrangler, show that friend of yours that he doesn’t have to make
some great effort, practice some heroic discipline. All he has to do is be with me, and
soak in my Word, and my Presence. That I just want him to stay with me.”

Wrangler is not yet listed on a web site of available spiritual directors. But perhaps he
should be.

Leighton Ford,

January 29, 2007

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