On Sunday, July 7th, 2013 Rev. Roxie Benson addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center's San Francisco facility. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
My talk today is going to be about my mighty companion. We have, of course, "mighty companions" in our lives. (see: OrEd.Mn.4.8) I've had many. There are people who have inspired me and been there to move me along in my process. But I was always raised with, and been around, dogs. I'm someone who has grown up with dogs. Definitely, dogs have been one of my idols.
I was thinking about idols. I was at a baseball game the other night, and I was thinking about people who idolize sports. For me, when the game is happening, I can get into it. But once it's over, I don't even think about sports. I went to the game for my boyfriend.
But at the game I thought, "Well, I idolize dogs. I have my idols too." So in that moment, I had this joining with all the sports fans because it was like, "We're no different. They're just looking for a distraction from the ego. I'm looking for a distraction from the pain of the ego too. I have my things, and they have their things." So I had this holy instant at the game. That's what A Course In Miracles teaches us. We have these series of holy instants where we join with our brothers, and eventually it just becomes this one long joining when we don't choose separation any longer.
My journey, my "journey without distance" as the Course calls it, (see: OrEd.Tx.8.51) wouldn't be nearly as fun if I didn't have these dogs that have loved me along the way.
I want to talk about the current dog in my life. Her name is Rosie, and she's definitely my .... You know my boyfriend asked me, "Are you more attached to Rosie than your other dogs?" I had to think about that. Eventually I said, "You know, I loved them all, but Rosie is the dog that probably got me through the breakup of my marriage. After the breakup, it was just the two of us that lived together. So, probably I do." I am a little more attached to Rosie.
Dogs bring us the love, this joy, but they also ... there's this humor too. They're funny and we can laugh at things they do. They teach us to laugh at ourselves – just to lighten up. I'm going to talk about my dog's illness, so I need to lighten it up now a little bit. I don't want you guys crying too much.
I'm going to educate you. I'm going to tell you how dogs are like men, but they're not like women:
Dogs are like men because both dogs and men have a fascination with crotches. (laughter) Dogs are like men because both fart shamelessly. (laughter) Dogs are like men because neither notice when you get a new haircut. (laughter) And both are suspicious of the mailman. (laughter)
Dogs are not like women because dogs don't shop. Dogs limit their bathroom time to a quick drink. (laughter) Dogs are not like women, because, the later you are, the happier the dog is to see you. (laughter) And unlike women, a dog doesn't care about the previous dogs in your life. (laughter)
So, I have this dog, Rosie, who is amazing. The thing that Rosie teaches me is – she wags her tail no matter who it is. She loves everybody. What a great thing to teach me. If I "wag my tail" when I see everyone, and act happy and excited to see everyone, I'm probably going to have more friends. Rosie never met a human that she didn't wag her tail for, because she's greeting her brothers. That's what she teaches me. She teaches me that everyone is a brother. You should wag your tail for all your brothers.
This dog, that is so fabulous and wonderful, injured herself, hurt her legs, both of her legs. There's this injury dogs can get called "tearing your ACL." The ACL is a ligament that holds your knee stable with the tibia. She did that to both her legs, and it is a very expensive treatment. It is two surgeries, probably $7,000.00 for both legs. But I wanted to explore other things, so I found this alternative vet and started exploring an alternate option for Rosie. One thing I want to do is this – the right leg is only a partial tear. So if we could stabilize the right leg, maybe we'd only have to do surgery on the left. In the process of this, I asked the vet to check a lump on her ear that a previous vet had checked, who said, "Oh I'm not worried about it. Let's just watch it and see if it gets bigger."
Well, we didn't measure it; there was nothing scientific done. I couldn't tell if it was getting bigger or not. So I asked this new alternative vet about this lump. This new vet said, "I don't like this at all. I want to remove it right away." So it turned out that it's cancer. This lump on her ear, was skin cancer. Then I went to a traditional vet office and paid a lot of money to have the cancer staged. They said that it had maybe progressed to a stage two cancer. It might be in one lymph node. They're not sure, but what we really need to do is cut off the ear and maybe take out the lymph node. Or, I can do radiation treatment for $7,000. I don't even think I'd do radiation on me!
I decided that my dog didn't care what she looked like, she would be cute with one ear. I was all ready to do the surgery. I was moving money from my savings account to my checking account to pay for it. I scheduled the surgery. I made arrangements with my schedule to make it happen, but it just .... It didn't feel right.
When I make decisions in my life, when it's a Holy Spirit assisted decision, I have a peace. It's absolute peace, a peace that I've made the right decision. But with the surgery, I didn't feel .... I just wasn't feeling it. So I did what I do when I'm not feeling peace. "Okay Holy Spirit, I don't know what anything is for. I don't know what anything means, but You do. So I need guidance on this."
I often get my guidance later, not right when I ask. I went to sleep. I woke up, and there was an email from my ex-husband, actually, about treating cancer in dogs. It was about treating this specific type of cancer with cannabis oil. So I started digging into the research. Then I called Rosie's vet office, her alternative treatment vet, and asked them, "How much time do I have?" They said, "Well, until you see if the lump grows back on her ear, you still have time. We can still take it off." So I went about doing the research and finding the cannabis oil. It can't be, you know, Rosie can't smoke a joint. (laughter) She just doesn't know how.
You have to find a way – you have to find cannabis in a form that you can use for treatment. All the research said there is this cannabis oil for skin treatment. So I asked my vet, "Does Rosie need a marijuana card?" They don't give them to dogs. However, I have a chronic pain condition, so it's pretty easy for me to get a marijuana card. So I did more research and found out where I can get a card, and where I can go shopping.
I got my interview with the doctor for the marijuana card. It was a Skype interview. That was a little weird, but I thought, "Well, okay." I, too, have a health issue I want to treat with cannabis. They did ask for health records and what not, but it felt a little weird. I wanted to be in this place of not judging, because I don't know what anything is for. When medical marijuana was going to help me, I'm right there for my – you know – to help my dog. I'm right there for her.
Then I go into this place, this pot store, and it's very professional. They have security guards, two security guards. The first thing I notice when I walk in is this overpowering smell. I'm thinking, "Oh my God!" But the security guards say, "Wow, we don't even smell it anymore because we're here all the time."
They take me in and tell me about all they do. They have classes where they teach you how to grow marijuana. You can do yoga there. You can go to cooking classes. It's all this stuff and very nice people.
There was almost nobody there when I got there, just one other customer. Then they told me they only take cash. Hum? Imagine that? But they conveniently had an ATM right there. Eventually I got to the counter and I told on myself, right away, to the guy. I said, "Really, I'm here for my dog. I'm looking for the oil. This is what I want." He told me they had it, exactly what I wanted, processed the way I wanted it processed. And so I took care of it. Also I wanted to get – I have this back pain – so I wanted to get some cream, some salve to put on my back. He said now I could have a free bud because I spent "X" amount of dollars, but I didn't want it. I said, "I don't want a free bud." So he gave me the salve.
I get home, I dose Rosie, and I put this salve on my back because I'm having a really hard time with my back. Now I don't know if I got loaded on that or not, but when I went to Trader Joe's, I was really digging my music in my car. (laughter) It was really good, and I was feeling rather creative, and I did write another verse for a John Mellencamp song. It's really good. (laughter) I think I should send it to him. (laughter)
However, Rosie did feel the effects, and she didn't care. I mean, you could tell that she didn't care that she couldn't walk very good, but she couldn't walk very good (laughter).
I've been having a lot of thoughts about what this is for, this illness with my dog. I'm the kind of person who has always had some kind of illness going on with me. I'm one of those people that, it's always something – some kind of sickness, pain, illness, whatever. The last couple of times I went up to the doctor, I've been reminded to get a pap smear, which is a cancer screening test – that it's overdue.
One of the thoughts I had was, "Is Rosie's cancer coming up because she's showing me a way to get cured, because I'm gonna have cancer?" I think thoughts like that, because I don't know what it's for, but what I do know is I believe in guidance, and I believe in staying open and not judging. I believe I got the guidance to not do the surgery and to explore this cannabis option. There have been times in my life when I judged medical marijuana as, you know, just for stoners. So I had to put aside all that judgement, and be open to anything. Now, I don't want to say that one form of magic is better than another, that traditional medicine is better than non-traditional, or whatever, because I could never go there. Because whatever you decide as your course of treatment for you is you. I knew that the surgery wasn't right for Rosie. It wasn't the right kind of surgery for my dog.
What you find, when you get out there and start doing research about medical marijuana, is that some people don't want the public to know that it works. That discussion is out there. Some people especially don't want you to know that it kills cancer cells. They don't want people to know that. "Some people" are the drug companies. It's marijuana – cannabis oil. Turns out that it cures things! The darn drug companies are not going to get any money, because you can grow your own. But for me it's not about politics, but it's something I found when I was out there engaged in how to treat Rosie's cancer.
What I get from A Course in Miracles is that everything happens for a reason. This happened for a reason. Rosie's sickness, there's a reason for it. There's a reason for me choosing sickness so often. The Course says, "For sickness is an election, a decision. It is the choice of weakness in the mistaken conviction that it is strength. When this occurs, real strength is seen as threat and health as danger. Sickness is a method, conceived in madness, for placing God's Son on his Father's throne." (OrEd.Mn.5.2) Jesus tells us that we see sickness to prove that we're powerful, that the body has power, and we have power over God because we can make the body sick. However, there's other reasons too. The Holy Spirit can use sickness too, for our awakening, for healing, and for our enlightenment.
What I do, now, when things happen, I don't ever ask "Why?" because "Why?" is a question of the ego. I ask the Holy Spirit, "What for? What is this for?" The answer I'm getting is – it's to let go of judgement about anybody choosing any kind of treatment, because I can't judge. I've judged chemotherapy and radiation, and said that I'd never do that to me, let alone my dog. So, this illness of Rosie's is to let go of judgement around anybody's choice in any kind of treatment they want to do.
I judged people for using medical marijuana. So this learning is for that too. I can let go of judgment around medical marijuana. The illness is for my continuing to accept guidance when I feel something is wrong, like I did with the surgery. It didn't feel right; go to my Guidance. That's what this is for, always knowing that if something doesn't feel right that I have a place within me where I can get an answer that does feel right.
This illness is about patience too, about patience with the treatment, and with the medical professionals. When I told the cancer doctor, that traditional veternarian, that I was going to use cannabis oil on Rosie, she didn't agree with that. However I didn't want to make her wrong. I said, "You are absolutely not wrong. I know that you believe in your medicine, and that you are doing what's best. You believe your treatment is absolutely best for my dog. I believe you care about her and want what's best for her, and I don't want to make you wrong. I'm just choosing this other thing."
This illness is, for me, to heal around having different judgements about different medical practices, and I definitely have judgements against the pharmaceutical companies that I need to let go of and heal from. This can help me with that. Rosie's illness can help me with that.
A Course In Miracles says, "Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain. Who would choose suffering unless he thought it brought him something, and something of value to him? He must think it is a small price to pay for something of greater worth." (OrEd.Mn.5.2) I don't know on what level a dog chooses an illness, or what are all the reasons it's for. But I know that if I continue to seek guidance around this illness, around all the stuff I'm supposed to learn, that I'll get my answers.
And one other thing I had to ask myself was, "How am I being selfish here?" I know that, selfishly, I wanna keep my idol, Rosie. I idolize Rosie's body. That's the truth. She is, her body is, something I idolize, but that's not the eternal relationship. The eternal loving relationship with this dog, is in my mind. It's the love that's in my mind that will always be there. I don't want to do selfish acts that are going to be hard on my dog, to keep my dog in her body because I don't want to miss my dog's body. That's another reason why I didn't want to do such drastic treatment, because those drastic treatments are all about just keeping my dog's body around for me.
What I do know is that healing is going to happen no matter what, but healing doesn't necessarily mean Rosie's cancer is going to go away. Healing means I find wholeness, oneness, and innocence in this situation for everyone who's involved. That's healing. That's true healing.
So, "He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did. Nor does he do anything to the world because he was mistaken about what it was. Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea." (OrEd.Mn.5.6)
Okay. I'm complete. (applause) ♥
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the June 2013 (Vol. 27 No. 4) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.