The Stranger Within

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Close up of cat's eyes


Autumn Newsletter 2021

The sound of Fusha, our German Shepherd boy dog, – really still a puppy although he will be 2 years old this December – barking at something the other day made us look towards him, wondering what it was this time that had caught his attention; something that was probably new, or something that was not usually there and in his line of sight. It is not the first time that he has done this, and it has not gone unnoticed by Hedley and myself before how observant our dogs are, and previous dogs we have had here. They are so alert, so sharp to their environment and surroundings, and so observant to our routine, and theirs. And as well as understanding much of what we say, they also pick up on our thoughts. They are such a lesson to us, and all this is part of the reason they, as with cats, are with us and why they share our life so closely with us.

On this occasion Fusha was barking at a large empty plastic bag that had held bird seed and that had been put down on the grass near the shed. It was a new shape and thing that he thought he should bark at as it wasn't there the day before! On another occasion, Hedley had put a pair of his welly shoes on top of a brick pillar which caused Fusha to bark again! It is quite amusing, but also thought provoking about how detailed their observation is and how much we could learn from this.

And so it made me think about the word 'observation' and ask myself how observant I am, and other people are, and that maybe in our fast paced world we miss so much. Because observation can give you so much through all the senses – sight, hearing, feeling, but you have to use your mind as well to think about what you are sensing. There is the phrase – seeing but not looking; and hearing but not listening.

I have found, however, that although I still have work to do on this, my observation has improved as I have become more peaceful because peace, I believe, gives you the time and space to think a little more outside of yourself. You are not so tied up with sorting yourself out, and so naturally you will have more time for others – to do, to be, to think. I see much more in our Peace Gardens here than I used to, and sometimes I make myself stand back mentally and look around me and see the gardens and how beautiful and peaceful they are. It is so busy here that it can be easy for this to pass you by and I know that this would be a great shame; but I realise that I am now more ready to observe, my mind is more available to think and to share in what is around me and who is around me. This is a journey that many of us, perhaps all of us, have to make as we untangle our lives and face up to our tests and challenges.

So, our animals, especially our cats and dogs, are a great reminder, if we need it, that observation is important and can give us so much. And, in turn, we can then give something back through thought, word, deed or action.