This is a simple story about a late-night moment, but in every moment lies a lesson.
It’s almost 2am and I am writing this on my iPhone while sitting in my car in the parking lot of a 24-hour pet emergency center. I’ve already been here for almost two hours while my dog, Aashi, waits inside to be checked by the on-call vet. Due to Covid, I am not allowed to enter the building. So when I arrived I checked her in with an attendant and assumed my vigil outside, alone in the middle of the night, in a dark parking lot, with not a car or person around.
It’s been a full two hours and I finally just received a call from inside the building. The vet has not, yet, done any diagnostics on my dog, but did want to be told her symptoms. I told the attendant Aashi’s symptoms when checking Aashi in. What have they been doing for the past two hours?
During this phone call I am told that it will be another three hours, at least, before Aashi can be attended to. So now I understand, they have other animals inside needing attention. But why didn’t they say that when I arrived at midnight and before I sat out here for hours while Aashi was not being helped? When I arrived, I was told it would be a short wait, seemingly realistic since I saw no one else around.
During the phone call I was trying to be nice, really, but I know the vet on the other end of the line sensed my frustration. Hearing I’d have to wait alone in the parking lot for another three hours, minimum, before they could get to Aashi, was definitely frustrating. And, if I made the half-hour drive home, I would fall behind whomever else arrives I’m gone. No Holdsies.
My frustration was out of concern for Aashi, exhaustion at 2am, and disappointment in the system. Even if they had a lot going on in there, common courtesy should have included better communication with me. Why didn’t they mention when I arrived that I’d be sitting outside in the middle of the night, alone, for hours? I should mention also, this was actually the second emergency clinic I visited tonight. The first center was so busy that they weren’t taking in patients! What was going on?
Meanwhile, I was using this time in my car spiritually. I’d been listening to Radio Ananda, immersing myself in Swami Kriyananda’s chants. I contemplated spiritual stuff, and listened to Nayaswami Jyotish‘ recent Sunday Service, all with the goal of calming my restless mind so that I could perceive the Spirit of God rather than getting caught in human, mental garbage.
On the drive up here I actually thought, “something interesting is going to come from tonight.” I had no idea what the evening would offer, but I wondered. Was I about to face the loss of a pet? What lesson was God wrapping in tonight’s experience? I knew to watch for the lesson. I was watching because nothing is random. Every moment is perfectly provided for our spiritual growth if we can attune to the lesson.
During that phone conversation with the vet, I figured out my lesson. I was being gently provided a reminder: always be kind.
While I was talking with her on the phone, I was absolutely aware that my annoyance was not serving my spiritual growth. My attitude on the phone was definitely not expansive spiritually. Even if outwardly my words to her were kind, my inner thoughts of frustration, judgment, and annoyance were my downfall. She could surely feel my negative vibes. My attitude simply magnetized back to myself an annoyed vet! Her snarkiness on the other side of the line felt loud and clear. Even though her exhibition of “snarkiness” was outward and her tone was uncomfortable to receive, my quiet, inward attitude was equally, or maybe even more, energetically negative. This is not a stellar example of responding from my highest potential.
The Divine lesson was gratefully received.
My annoyance at the circumstances initially felt so justified. The clinic’s communication was terrible. Someone wasn’t treating me fairly, Aashi wasn’t being attended to, I was outside alone in the middle of the night for hours, and my ego joyfully watched me fall hook, line and sinker into the victim role. But the lesson was clear and came quickly; I am accountable for my thoughts as much as my actions. It’s equally, if not more important to catch those initial human twinges that can carry me down into the spiral abyss of reactive behavior.
So while the clinic prepares Aashi’s “discharge” papers, I’m thinking of all the ways I can attune to God in this situation. Lo and behold, there are so many! Here are just a few:
• I can stop judging others and instead see God in them; in their eyes, their actions, intentions, or challenges
• I can appreciate that the vet is working hard, serving others through the night
• I can send healing energy out to others or to the animals in the clinic who must be suffering more than Aashi
• I can practice humility, patience, tolerance
• I can breathe deeply and connect with my own Loving center
• I can identify an endless list of Divine gifts I am receiving in the moment
• I can be still and know that God is near, giving me a perfect lesson
If Master Yogananda were standing in front of me how would I behave? Would I have an inner temper tantrum of frustration towards others in front of Him? Of course not. What made it okay tonight? Nothing. There is never an excuse for unkindness in action or thought.
The Divine lesson was delivered and received. Absolutely nothing is random. God is the doer in every moment, lovingly trying to pick us up.
Aashi will be out in a minute. We’re going home and we will visit her regular vet later this morning.
By the way, the photo of Aashi was not staged. One day she walked up to me holding the tag in her mouth. She must have found it in the house somewhere. The same beautiful, gentle message; always be kind.