One of the most beautiful random acts of kindness I've ever received was not from a human being, but from a kindly old black lab.
I was at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch, an ashram in upstate NY, and it was my last day there. I had some free time after brunch and I wanted to hike the trails behind the property, which sits on 100 acres of beautiful forest in the foothills of the Catskills. The only problem was, there wasn't an organized hike and the head of the ashram had warned us not to hike the trails alone because they were not marked very well.
Nevertheless, I stood at the head of the trail weighing my options. It just seemed like the perfect thing to do to mark the end of my time there. I had just had a magical asana practice, and I wanted to take a walk in nature to reflect upon it.
As I was standing there contemplating, I hear a rustling behind me; of the four legged variety. The black lab (one of the animals who lives at the ashram) came padding up next to me, paused, and then trotted about 30 feet ahead of me. Then he looked back, went another 10 feet, and looked back again. Was this dog telling me to follow him??!! Either way, I did.
We walked together like this along the trails. He would run ahead, never more than 50 yards or so, look back, wait until I caught up a bit and then he would run ahead again. Astounding! He guided me toward the big field next to the entrance of the property, where the cows live. I perched on the gate while he galloped in circles around the sacred creatures. This seemed to be a favorite activity of his. I smiled and giggled to myself, to see his joy and the cows' indifference. After a few minutes like this he came out and resumed guiding me along the trail.
While I walked I reflected on his kindness and how touching it was that he chose to help me. How did he know I needed his help? What energy did he feel? I didn't want to leave!
As soon as we reached the end of the trail, and the main building of the ashram was in view, he took off running.
Afterward, I sat under a tree outside the temple and wrote this poem:
the trees are talkin'
to each other
and my mind is dancing, with a butterfly on my nose;
in a field of wild
the colors of
grace, god and love.
the colors of this
moment. a divine moment.
i can talk
to black dogs
and read scottish minds.
if i could put duct
tape over my heart
to stop this feeling