by Lori Cardona

As I sat down to write this article, I wanted to honor the teachers and teachings that led me to a dedicated path of interfaith spirituality. As the co-founder of Sacred Journey Interfaith Seminary, in Fort Lauderdale, I am charged with the task of expanding the minds and hearts of seminarians who are newly exposed to information that requires flexibility of consciousness and possibly a change of preconceived religious notions.

However, while I was considering who and what to write about, my little 15-year-old dog/guru Wilson began a steady and rapid decline of health. On the morning of July 26, he asked to go outside, sat in the grass a while, then came back in and took his last breath. I held him in my arms and said goodbye to the physical presence of one of my greatest spiritual teachers. Wilson was my 10-pound yogi, a true minister to me and to all who were blessed by his relentless love.

Every religion asks for our humility, our surrender, our willingness to strive for the release of ego’s strong grip so that we can rise above pettiness and learn to love steadily, forgive readily. Even in the worst of times we have a sacred choice. We can angrily fight the tides of circumstance or we can stand strong in our inner knowing that divine order is moving us in the direction of our spiritual growth.

For Wilson, this knowing seemed to be innate and second nature, with no signs of distraction from his commitment to a life of inner peace. He withstood my clumsy parenting when I got soap in his pretty eyes at bath time, or when my frequent missteps landed my foot on his little paw, causing us both to make yelping sounds and, for a moment, leap away from each other. He always bounced back, came quickly to me without reprimand, simply stretching like a yogi then snuggling close. He brought me quiet lessons in humility, love, tolerance, patience and forgiveness.

This “knowing” and easy love so apparent in Wilson is a capability we all have. Deep within our hearts, we all know that our difficult experiences are temporary and somewhat less significant than the tremendous and often excess energy we put into them. It is our soul’s journey, our life of sacred contracts that land us in experiences we sometimes don’t understand. In our confusion and angst, we forget to handle our challenges with a willingness to learn and be led by spirit’s whisper. We forget to surrender to the lessons with an open heart and an open mind, to ask only for the direction of The Divine. And yet, every time, after we are done kicking and screaming about “why me”, we find an answer that has blessings disguised, doors opened and comforts waiting.

As we grow more in spiritual intentions and dedications, we begin to take another look at the importance of our inner world, the light within, the wisdom within, and ultimately, the ever-present peace within. Just like little Wilson, we surrender to the simple truth of our spiritual self, our sacred self of service and love. We get in touch with our divine nature. We pray, we praise, we forgive, we love. And then again, like Wilson, we snuggle in close and rest.

Reverend Lori Cardona is founder and spiritual leader of LMC Interfaith Ministries. She teaches an interfaith perspective on A Course in Miracles, at 7 p.m., every Thursday, at Center for Inner Wisdom, 4849 N. Dixie Hwy., Bay 2, Oakland Park. She is also co-founder and dean of Sacred Journey Interfaith Seminary. For more information, email [email protected]