He’s big, strong, and handsome. Over the past several weeks, my dog, Sadie, has made a new friend.
Just over two years ago, I adopted Sadie from an organization that rescues dogs from a Lakota reservation in South Dakota. There, she roamed wild for the first year of her life.
When we first met, I noticed immediate signs that Sadie had experienced trauma that year. Most of her tail was lopped off. For our first couple of days together, she was too timid to eat, poop, or even pee. She was afraid to get in the car and go near water.
Gradually, her reticence wore off and the real Sadie emerged: playful, adventurous, and sweet as can be. But there was still one thing Sadie still hadn’t yet reclaimed– her voice.
I often called her “my little mouse,” for I’d never once heard her bark. The only time I ever heard her make a sound was in the middle of the night. Sound asleep, a loud noise startled me awake. My eyes darted around the room, trying to adjust to the darkness while figuring out the source of the clamor.
Then I looked beside me, and the sound–a semi-squelched howl– was coming from Sadie, who was sound asleep and clearly immersed in very vivid dream. I smiled when I realized it was her. I was happy that she was finding her voice, even if only in her dreams. She, too, had been startled awake in the past when I woke us both up with an eerie, groaning yell. A howl trying to free itself from my insides.
One evening last week, something shifted. I was sitting on the couch while Sadie and her new friend played outside in the yard. Then, I heard it. A fierce, bold bark reverberated through the room.
“What’s that sound?” I asked my friend, sitting beside me. “Is that….Sadie?!”
I leapt up, swung open the door, and stepped onto the deck. There I saw Sadie, her throat outstretched, her mouth open wide, emitting a voice so true and so free that I couldn’t help but to smile, clap, and run up give her a big hug.
It took some time, modeling from her friend, and practice, but Sadie has, indeed, found her voice.
And, in many ways, this is what the times we’re living in are calling all of us to do now as well.
We can feel unheard. We can feel cynical. We can feel insecure about what other people will think. We can feel unsure about what, exactly, to say. But one thing’s for sure: we cannot remain silent.
The only way to find your voice is to start using it. Let it come out in awkward howls in the wee hours of the night. Stay close to those who have learned to free theirs. Practice, without letting how you feel stop you. Risk feeling uncomfortable and unsure until, one day you surprise yourself with the clarity and force that pours forth from your throat as your TRUE voice.
The only way to contend with darkness is to turn on the light. The only way to cast out fear is to open to love. And light and love are not of this world, they are of the spiritual world. These times require us to cultivate immense inner strength through serious, disciplined spiritual practice.
I’m leaning on my practice now more than ever before, and I want to support you in doing the same. That’s why I’m hosting an “Inner Strength Sale” later this week. For a few days, all of my home study kits will be 20% off.
The sale starts this Thursday the 11th and ends on Sunday the 14th. To prepare, peruse the store here to see what might feel supportive right now. And look out for another email from me in a couple of days!