I’m lucky. No, it’s more than that. I’m blessed to live in a place that people like to visit. No, it’s more than that. People love to come here. It’s Sedona.
My friend Christine came to visit last night. She’s driving across country, in a big jeep that’s ingeniously tricked out, with her dog Charley. Does this ring a bell? Christine’s dream was to relive John Steinbeck’s motor journey, chronicled in one of his most beloved books, Travels With Charley. Steinbeck wanted to “reconnect with America.” While I’m sure this trip (she started in Maryland near where I used to live, visited her parents in Frederick, Maryland and Wilmington, North Carolina, and then started out for California) has reconnected Christine with America, it has also reconnected her with herself. That’s the kind of reflective person Christine is. She named her dog Charley with this adventure in mind. And she’s not just on a motor trip. She’s moving. She’s taking up a whole new life in California. Brave? You bet. Courageous? Yes. But more than that, Christine has said yes to that Marvelous Force within us that tells us to live, live, live— because life is beautiful and more abundant than we can imagine.
This young woman has seen more of the marvels of her country in a few weeks than most of us will see in a lifetime. This is a big, beautiful country with spacious skies and a wealth of national parks and monuments (God willing they will stay that way). She came to Sedona from one of the marvels of the world– the Grand Canyon. Her destination is Santa Cruz – maybe. I say that because Christine is following her spirit; she is surrendering to life as it presents itself. Her journey is not an impulsive spree. It’s beautifully thought out and carefully executed, one day at a time. She has learned that you can follow your spirit without living dangerously or foolishly, that you can live with your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. I fully expect her to find what she is looking for—a place on a mountain beneath a giant redwood tree. Why not?
This adventure is close to my heart, having made a journey of my own, and having embarked upon a life of surrender as well. Like Christine, I pulled up roots, and came out to Arizona with my cat, Dorian Gray.
Which brings me to today’s sermon. Are you smiling? Today it’s not about me and Christine—it’s about Dorian and Charley. Dorian is a loner. He’s never lived with another cat. He’s certainly never lived with a dog. He is king of the house, and king of me. And then, there is Charley. Charley is the most laid-back, coolest dog I’ve ever met. Charley has seen America with Christine as if he were born to it (and I personally believe he was). But he’s not small. He’s a border collie mix. So…Christine and I were wondering if she was going to be able to sleep in my spare room or if she’d have to sleep in her jeep. Because of Dorian.
We introduced them carefully, and waited for the worst. We underestimated these animals. They took stock of one another, no war broke out, and at one point, Dorian joined Charley on the bed. Dorian, who doesn’t know what it is to peacefully co-exist with another animal, joined Charley on the bed.
I’m not going to say that they became best friends. But what they showed each other was respect. The benefit of the doubt. And space.
What if human beings were able to meet each other on this sacred ground? Can you imagine what this world would be like? Dogs and cats. Men and women. The powerful and the vulnerable. What if we could put aside our hard-wired fear, our stereotypes, our prejudices, our need to dominate, and just…trust that the next person we meet who is not like ourselves, the next person we may be predisposed to dislike, is just…another soul who, on the inside, is identical to our own?
Here’s to Dorian and Charley. An example to us all.