For nearly four years I have been caring for my grandson’s dog – a German shepherd named Athena. I took her in when having her became untenable for his family. I took her in out of care and concern but mostly out of love for my grandson and a heart desire to sustain and grow his relationship with his dog. Over the time she has been with me, he regularly visits her and plays with her.
Athena is dying. She is twelve and half years old and along with just being a geriatric large dog, she has breast cancer. We hope that the geriatric piece determines her life’s end before cancer does. We are all grappling with this but most especially, Liam.
The other day, Liam spent a day of his school vacation with me and opted to give Athena a Reiki treatment with me. I became trained in Reiki a year ago and have taken to giving Athena a treatment now and again to comfort her.
Liam and I kneeled before Athena and together recited the Reiki prayer: Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings Just for today I will not worry Just for today I will not be angry Just for today I will do my work honestly Just for today I will be kind to my neighbor and every living thing. Then we used my moonstone dowser to assess Athena. Liam was fascinated by the revelations of the dowser. Next, we started at her head and together we rested our hands upon her, slowly travelling her body. As we approached her lump I could see Liam did not want to touch it so I silently placed my hands around it. Athena was still and rested as we worked. The image of Liam’s hands together with mine on Athena is beyond words and one I will treasure for a long time. After we swept Athena with our hands passing over her from head to tail, we dowsed again and Liam was delighted to see that our loving touch had helped her in some small way.
Liam went on to ask me if I could do Reiki on him … and so I did. Again, he was fascinated and intrigued by it all as he was reiked too. The image of my own hands over my grandson is another image and memory I treasure. It carries within it my own appreciation of what is at work with me, in me and through me – and Liam and Athena.
Finally, Liam seeking to know even more joined me in listening to the Reiki prayer recited in Japanese online. We listened to it a few times sitting closely together in my chair and a half. This is as close to a cuddle as it gets with a nine year old.
I don’t know how much longer Athena will be with us. I don’t know how our time together on that February afternoon deepens Liam’s spirit but I do know that it does. I know that just for that time together we lived the mystery of life sacramentally and that we were not alone in that. I know that Liam and Athena were my teachers as I opened myself more fully to both of them. And I know that when Athena passes Liam will hold the memory of his kinesthetic spiritual encounter in his heart. I know that all of this will buoy him as he suffers through losing her. And I suspect that this will lead Liam forward when he is ready to explore the mystery of life more deeply.