Peace and the Opportunity of Conflict

Last week I was walking Carlie and our dear friend Roxie in an open field, under the cathedral bright, blue sky. The temperature was perfect and the sun beautifully warm. They would run and sniff separately and then jointly, often returning to me for pets, treats and loving affirmations of our beautiful friendship. We paused under the shade of a tree and let the moment of our love for each other sink in. I looked down and saw a 4-leaf clover and thought, ‘wow, this is the first one I’ve found in my whole life’.

I was so deeply grateful for the moment and for the deeply satisfying feeling we were sharing, me and the two dogs. I reflected on how Roxie had jumped into the car to greet Carlie, wriggling her body in joyful cheer about our anticipated walk together. We got up and starting walking to the next favourite place on this walk, our little watering hole, a good place to dip the feet in when it’s hot. To an outside observer, this looks like a wonderful moment, but of course they don’t know the whole story.

Not every dog likes puppies, and Roxie is one of those dogs. Puppies are unpredictable and they don’t know the rules, making them unsafe and a nuisance. Roxie and Carlie learned to fear each other and on numerous occasions fought with each other – in large part because of misinterpreted communication and a lack of trust with each other. Having them in the same space (ie during family events) required vigilant human management to avoid conflict.

Our family wants our dogs to be part of our gatherings and yet here was this major conflict – between the dogs. And as often can be the case, the conflict has the potential to spread, creating conflicts between the families of the different dogs (please feel free to place children, co-workers, neighbours as substitutes here).

One thing I know is that dogs need space to heal conflict – and lots of it. Walking together is a good way, a common moving forward. So I made a commitment to walk Carlie and Roxie together every week. The beginning was not easy. I did not let them off-leash at the same time. I did not let them play together as they hadn’t learned to trust the parameters of each other’s play. The walks required a constant vigilance on my part to watch and be aware of even the slightest signs of stress and arousal. We went to open fields and bushes, places of good energy where enough space was available to both in their walking and exploring. I didn’t let them stare at each other, barely even glance at each other. Our single task was to walk together.

On each drive to Roxie’s house, I would create a mental picture of walking harmoniously. I sent Reiki healing light to the conflict and our relationship with each other. I prayed for the seemingly unimaginable to manifest – a friendship with each other.

Wind, rain, snow, heat and everything in between, I went. Every Sunday morning for over a year I walked these dogs, two dogs I love. Sometimes I had company join me in walking them, but most often I went alone. I knew they both wanted something different, but had no idea how to get there on their own. They needed guidance, solid leadership and a profound commitment from me. I also asked the same from them – out loud every week. I would repeat my intention to both of them as we began walking and asked if they were aligned with it for a greater purpose of family harmony.

These walks were work. They required my full presence and my full commitment. As the months passed, the tension loosened. The walks became more relaxed. We still walk together every week and we still repeat our intention together. I still send Reiki to the situation, constantly asking Reiki to also help me be a better leader as we heal the past and create new bonds for the future.

So on this lovely day last week, I smiled and I smiled deeply. I was deeply grateful for what I was witnessing and was a part of. I was sharing in the gentle behaviours from two dogs who have created a bond of friendship with each other.

Experiencing peace takes mindful and intentional work because we have to face the conflicts that destroy our relationships and our sense of trust. Returning to peace requires enormous vision and a constant commitment to the vision. If I would have only gone on the walks when I felt like it or allowed myself excuses to stay home on those dreary and more challenging days, I would have missed out on what we now have together. And I never would have found that 4-leaf clover because I wouldn’t have been there with them to see it.

As you move forward this fall, what vision of peace do you want to return to in your life? Get specific in just one area or in one relationship in your life. What conflict is in the way? What do you need to acknowledge about this conflict? Who will help you on this path to healing and restored harmony?

Please join me in celebration of International Peace Day this Saturday (September 21st) and receive a Reiki peace blessing for yourself and your community. Let’s set our intent and take action together. Namaste.