This morning Creek Woman gave me a little lesson she asked me to share. I had brought the dog outdoors with me, and she usually stays by my side, but today she was off on some mission of her own. We have new neighbors with their own dog, and I was concerned Dolly would get into some trouble. I was trying to pray, but the thought of “Where is the dog?” kept intruding. Finally Creek Woman said to me, “It is a matter of Sovereignty.”
“Dolly’s sovereignty?” I asked.
“Yes,” Creek Woman replied, “and your own too.” Then she left me alone to think about what she has said.
I once was riding my horse, and a neighbor used to like to feed him apples when we rode by. One day, he had not been cooperating on the ride, and I asked the woman not to feed him the apple, because I did not want to reward him for disobedient behavior. The woman got angry with me, and told me off for being so cruel as to ride my horse in the first place. We obviously felt very different about our relationships with our own animals. I judged her for being a “spoiler.” She had a little dog that was more indulged than it was trained.
I had trained my horse, and he was normally a real joy to ride. We were simply having a bad day. Usually Future liked to be ridden and he had a great working attitude. I was young then, and I still had some of my feelings that as I was responsible for Future’s care, he ought to do as I told him to do. My attitude has softened a lot, and I have been learning – from my sometimes stubborn dog – that relationships cooperate much better if both parties want to work together.
So I still do not agree with that once-upon-a-time neighbor. I think that animals and people have had cooperative working relationships for many, many thousands of years. There is no reason that animals cannot work with their people. “Sovereignty” as Creek Woman meant it does not mean slave and master, but I am sovereign over me, and Dolly is sovereign over herself, and when we want to work together, it becomes a matter of two sovereign beings cooperating for the joy we take in each other.
And there is also the matter of my dog is a creature whose care I am responsible for, so there are moments when my guidance is needful to protect her. For example, she knows how to cross a road by hand signals, and she knows to get off the road when I say, “Car.” These are things we have trained her for her own safety. Sometimes she must submit to the leash for her own safety and here proper training makes her polite to work with, instead of this big dog pulling me all over the county.
The issue changes when I nag her because I am worried by concern of what she is up to. She is a reliable dog, and has every right to enjoy her own mission on our own land. She has been trained, and it is for me now to allow her sovereignty by trusting the training I gave her. My sovereignty over myself extends to being responsible for how I occupy my own sphere, and not occupying myself with thoughts of “Where is that dog?”
After I had put these thoughts together, I asked Creek Woman if I had correctly understood the lesson. She said, “You got it!” And I went back down to the water and prayed this time without worries about the dog’s whereabouts distracting me. I then called Dolly and we went for our morning walk.
Prayer for today: Creator, thank you for Creek Woman who guides me to improve myself in right relationship. Thank you for the relationships I have enjoyed with animals for many years. Thank you for my relationship with You. Amen.