I am no longer young. I am no longer that pup who bounds enthusiastically and indiscriminately in search of new ideas and paths. Youthful enthusiasm has been replaced by a learned caution and well-honed sense of spiritual direction. I have learned to scent the winds carefully and step confidently and lightly on my own path. I am becoming an old dog.
There is a sense in most spiritual communities that old dogs are sage and wise. Often they are. Sometimes they are not. Even the wisest can take a misstep and stumble like a leggy pup. The difference is that an old dog can take longer to recover from its faltering steps than a younger one.
I am still becoming that old dog, but I’ve felt recently what it’s like to falter and not instantly rebound with boundless enthusiasm. Instead, I picked myself up slowly, tried to lick my wounds, and found myself unsteady on my feet. I’m stumbling forward now, having to stop to rest every few paces, finding that I am gnawing and worrying over the bones of my own failings. What came easily to me in the past is now a struggle and I have to wonder if this is what the future holds. I’m not quite ready to retire permanently to the shade of the front porch, but I know that these changes mark a sort of rite of passage.
I am becoming an old dog.