spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureFoxie gives his July talk some thought

It’s only March but my mind is already on my appearance as a guest lecturer at the San Luis Obispo UU in July. What to talk about doesn’t worry me. Because I have no divinity school degree, no one will expect this dog to do Bible quotes. My one and only says that in her experience, humanists and atheists don’t much like them. As for Christians, I have heard they will forgive me if I don’t go there.  How humanists and atheists would react if I did repeat a parable, I am less certain.

I don’t know if it is good or bad, but no ministerial training means no need to inspire a parishioner to become a better person. Also no uplifting the downtrodden either. Not studied in politics except for the cursing I hear from those around me, I won’t know enough to kick up political dust devils. By July, I don’t plan to have studied up on Unitarians or Universalists, so no tracing historic roots.

No matter what I finally choose to say, my one and only says my picture will serve as a backdrop for the talk. The man in the back of the church will project my image on the blank wall behind the chancel, and everyone will see me large. Before July we will decide between one profound shot and a series of pictures reflecting myriad aspects of my personality – asleep in several poses or confronting life from one or two standing positions. All in all, I am confident that for the 17 to 20 minutes I am allotted, what I have learned as a dog will be more than informative enough. If I falter or fall short, I can always turn to the pictures projected behind me and detail what was going through my mind at the moment my one and only took a particular picture.

I expect congregants in attendance that July day will not be put off by how my metaphoric choices stick close to the ground, paralleling my basic grass-roots experiences. I trust I won’t be less interesting for being nose to the ground. For example, dead worms and bird droppings are elixir for this dog. Who knew that?

Hurting someone’s feelings is one concern if I choose to go after cats the way I actually would if one crossed my path. Detailing that obvious aggression would not be an example of kind speech, and some in the congregation might take offense. Gossiping, or pointing paws at other animals will be a definite no-no.

Fortunately, my real expertise lies in the field of loving. No one familiar with domesticated canines would dare argue that a cared-for dog isn’t loyal and endlessly nonjudgmental. Given a good upbringing or, as in my case, a timely intervention, a dog is anyone’s best friend. And we can be trained in obedience. Well some dogs can. I will not dwell on the disappointment and shame my one and only suffered when we were ordered to leave the small- dog obedience training in San Francisco because I lunged at a child’s pant leg as he raced past me in the crowded room of small dogs off-leash and their families. But that is the past.

All in all, I look forward to my time on the chancel at the local UU because I think people will like looking at life through dog eyes. But if any minds change before July and I am disinvited or decide this speaking engagement isn’t for me, I can bow-wow out and allow my one and only to speak for me. 

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