Of Dogs and Spirituality

Of dogs and spirituality 2012 01 19 – a sad musing on a sleepless night.

Lucy loves churches. She would pull me towards the church doors each time we walk past. I let her sniff around when the doors are closed and nobody is inside. She can linger for a long time. Tonight, the church nearby was open. Someone was playing the piano, and there were people walking in and some going in and out and in again. Perhaps preparing for a service. Lucy walked up to the entrance, she strained at the leash, she wanted to go inside. We struggled for a good eight minutes, which seemed like an age to me.

She was insistent, and didn’t want to leave. The one thing that rang a deep chord in my memory about this situation was that nobody invited us inside. Nobody even smiled at us and stopped to chat. The religious folks were too busy going about their religious activities to bother with the odd figure of a lone woman tugging at her big black dog at the church entrance. Irony, isn’t it, because to go in and out of the church, they had to walk around my Lucy’s large body, which was planted like a rock right in front, in the middle of the thoroughfare.

What is it that draws Lucy to church? Why does she insist so vehemently on entering a confined and unknown space – built by humans for the supposed purpose of worshipping God, Creator of All Creatures, but where humans do not welcome all creatures apart from certain conforming humans? Is there something, or “someone,” residing inside that she sees and senses, which the humans frequenting the place do not seem to notice exists within? (If they did, would they not allow Lucy and her kind in, in fact, even welcome them, then? Doesn’t their Holy Bible say. “All creation worships Thee, Oh Lord?” – it does means ALL, doesn’t it????)

Is the spiritual a deep sonorous extension of the sensorial?

I have too many sad and horrific stories to tell about my skirmishes with organised religion. But that was about me. There is one markedly disgusting one about yet another dog who loved to sit in church, quietly, not a single sound, inside his pram, all zipped up and disturbing no one. After a few weeks of quietly enjoying church with mummy and daddy, this perfectly behaved pooch’s human parents were approached by the priest and told that other parishioners had complained about the presence of the dog, that nobody wanted to worship with a dog, so please do not bring the dog again. The disgusted couple left, never to return.

I am not an atheist. I believe in my ability for a spiritual existence. My problem is not with God. My problem is with the humans professing to know and love and worship God.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I care not for a man’s religion if his dog or cat is not the better for it.” Amen to that. But who is listening? Most are not. They are too busy being pious.

What’s even more sad is that this church is one I used to respect, because of their liberal stance on homosexuality and their wonderful service to the homeless. I guess their Christian love just doesn’t extend to ALL God’s creatures after all.

My guess is that humans, in our search for superiority over all creatures, have left the sensorial behind, and robbed ourselves of the spiritual in the process. Perhaps we ought to turn back, and look at and learn from the ones among us we now deem as weak, disable, unwhole, the specially different humans who sense better but yet seem to care less or know less about mainstream humanity’s complex social structures of power mongering and manipulation of self and others – and yes, look also upon the animals, to find our original souls again, our purity of spirits, and indeed, to find GOD.

[P.S. I know that there are many churches in Europe that allow worshippers to bring along their dogs. But not in Singapore, and not here in Sydney, Australia – and probably all of Australia, which, although is far more dog friendly than Singapore, is still many centuries behind Europe’s Italy or France where being dog friendly is concerned. Another personal observation of mine is that Catholic churches tend to be more tolerant of dogs than Protestant congregations. Perhaps the example of St. Francis of Assisi is a valuable one for all church goers to follow?]

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