By Gardiner L. Tucker, Jr., Colorado

For six weeks during the fall, my wife, Marcie, and I were house-sitting in Estes Park, Colorado, for her university professor. I was excited to live there, because it is surrounded by mountains with wildlife everywhere. I’ve always loved animals and felt a strong connection to both domestic pets and animals in nature.

In Eckankar I’ve learned that animals are Soul, just like us. I often wondered about our spiritual connection. Since they are Soul too, are we in a spiritual community with them? How do we communicate?

I worked in a city near the place where Marcie and I were staying temporarily. This meant I drove down from the mountains to work, then back into them and on to the house, located on an outcrop overlooking the town. One evening on the drive up the mountains, I decided to stop at a soccer field in town before returning home. I wanted to get some exercise by running and practicing kicking the ball. I knew it would be after dark by the time I arrived but assumed floodlights would illuminate the field.

Upon arrival, I saw that the field’s empty parking lot had no floodlights or even streetlights. It would have been completely dark, but a full moon, starting its rise over the mountains, partially lit the field with silvery light. Silhouettes of evergreen trees lined the mountain’s ridges. When I parked and opened my car door, fresh, cool alpine air rushed in to greet me with the strong scent of pines that awakened all my senses.

Let the Games Begin

Excited for an adventure, I changed into my soccer outfit, got my ball out of the car trunk, and walked toward the field. After my eyes adjusted to the moonlight, I noticed a herd of about forty elk covering at least two-thirds of the field.

In a moment of awe, I froze at their sudden nearness. Because I stood less than fifty yards from the herd, I could see how beautiful these animals were, with their large brown eyes and sleek fur.

Elk are some of the largest North American mammals. The elk in this herd were bigger than deer or antelopes. They stood approximately five to six feet (two meters) tall at their shoulders. The males had large antlers that added to their height and presence.

What to Do?

The elk herd, with the moon rising over it, was inspiring. Yet my inspiration was accompanied by a sense of fear. Living in Colorado, I was familiar with warnings to keep my distance from wild animals. They are unpredictable, and elk might charge at a person if they became afraid. But I sensed something about this situation was unique and different. I wondered, Should I go back to the car or stay and play?

It struck me that these elk are Souls too, and we are connected spiritually. I still felt some fear, and I suspect the elk were not too sure of me either. So I stopped walking, closed my eyes, and sang HU, a love song to God.

Singing HU brings me the awareness of God and divine love in the moment, no matter what I might be facing.

By the time I finished the HU song, a feeling of love had come over me. I knew I could play soccer in harmony with the elk. My fear had turned to divine love and would neutralize the uncertainty for both the herd and me. Being practical, I also thought, After all, the elk are on the north side of the field, and I’ll be playing soccer on the south side.

Spiritual Abundance and Happiness

Before entering the elks’ territory, I also remembered that Marcie and I recently had been doing a spiritual exercise taught in Eckankar.

The spiritual exercise is to formulate a spiritual goal and write it as a sentence fifteen times each day. My sentence had read, “I am happy, healthy, wise, abundant, and free.” We did this spiritual exercise for about six weeks before being asked to house-sit for the professor, which had turned out to be an experience of great abundance and happiness. For me, the presence of the elk herd was a spiritually abundant moment of pure happiness.

As I stood before the herd, I knew that seeing them so near had come to me because of doing that spiritual exercise as a contemplation.

Getting Close to the Elk

With divine love in my heart, I ran to the open south section of the field and began kicking my soccer ball toward the goal. The elk seemed unconcerned with my presence and didn’t move away.

Then my ball hit the goal post, bounced off of it, and rolled all the way into the herd on the north side.

I felt the presence of the Mahanta, the inner side of the Living ECK Master, who serves as a spiritual guide. The Mahanta has helped me through many challenges in life, and I’ve come to rely on his guidance on a daily basis.

Tonight, the Mahanta guided me with a sense of love and protection as I approached the area where the herd grazed in the grass. Slowly they moved aside from my soccer ball and created a narrow path for me to walk into their midst and retrieve it.

Tears of gratitude sprang to my eyes. I felt the love connection between the elk and me. All fear vanished. The Mahanta had brought me into this spiritual experience with these Souls. It expanded my awareness of the spiritual community we share with all living beings and the power of the Spiritual Exercises of ECK to help me create and shape my life.

A Contemplation Seed

You are invited to reflect on the spiritual messages in this story by contemplating on this passage from How to Survive Spiritually in Our Times, Mahanta Transcripts, Book 16, by Sri Harold Klemp:

Sit down at a table or a desk and write a spiritual goal fifteen times. I’m not telling you what to write. But I’ll give you an example of something that you may want to see or write so you can watch as Divine Spirit brings these objects of your spiritual desire into your life. For instance, you may ask to be an instrument for God’s love. .  . .

So every day, fifteen times, all at one sitting—it doesn’t take long—just write “I am ________.” Use the present tense. . . .

As you write this, if you usually write in a very neat, tight handwriting, let yourself go. Scribble. Write very big. Use the back of shopping bags or a blackboard. Go first class, write on a piece of paper. Use both sides. Don’t use any punctuation. If you ordinarily write in a certain size, write in a different size.

Have fun. Because what you’re doing is opening up the windows of your world.

As time goes on, watch how the Holy Spirit begins to make changes in your life.