By Paula Flint, West Virginia

I love animals, and many years ago I was open to a new kind of love relationship in my life. Personal issues were overwhelming me. I wanted spiritual growth, but it appeared that all I was getting was physical drama and emotional pain.

I fought hard to accept life on its own terms, to be an example of divine love. To help me with this goal, I decided to do a spiritual exercise. I wrote, “I am a living, breathing example of divine love” twenty-one times for twenty-one days.

My husband and I thought having a horse might help relieve some of my stress. He’d owned horses growing up, and now we lived on four acres out in the country. We contacted my husband’s cousin, and he told us, “I have just the horse for you!” Dude was a young, sorrel quarter horse about fifteen hands in height.

We were very busy at the time Dude came to share our lives. Our three teenagers were in high school, and all were driving. I was primary caretaker for my eighty-year-old mother-in-law who lived with us because she’d had a debilitating stroke. We thought a horse would help her heal by reliving pleasant memories from her childhood.

I’d been an ECKist for about sixteen years, and my desire to be of service to the ECK, the Holy Spirit, was strong. I understood that animals are Soul too, and knew that to share my love with another of God’s creatures could bring about much healing and inner peace.

My Spiritual Connection with Dude

The moment I touched Dude and looked into his eyes, I felt a peace I’d never known before. A surreal calmness enveloped my entire being.

Dude immediately brought joy to my life. His pasture was literally all around our house. When he wanted attention, he’d step onto the back porch and look in the dining-room windows.

Every evening, as a way to de-stress, I’d go outside to the barn and run my hands lovingly down Dude’s back from his head to tail. As I did this, I gently sang HU, an ancient name for God that, when sung aloud or silently, is a love song to God. I’d spend hours outside singing to Dude so I could practice being divine love. I also put my attention on Prajapati, the ECK Master who works closely with animals. These two spiritual practices always transported me into an experience of spiritual freedom.

After we’d had Dude for about two weeks, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed one evening. I went out to the barn and started sharing my nightly spiritual exercise with him. A gentle rain made it very quiet and peaceful outside.

All of a sudden Dude walked in a complete circle around me and lay down with his side lightly touching the front of my legs. A feeling of awe and love overwhelmed me. Although I hadn’t grown up around horses, I knew enough about their behavior to realize Dude’s nearness was unusual. Horses seldom trust humans enough to lie at our feet. I slowly got down on my knees in the mud and whispered, “Thank you, Dude, for trusting me. What an honor.”

Cupping my hands under his muzzle, I continued singing HU. He slowly put the full weight of his head in my hands and fell asleep while I listened to his gentle breathing. We stayed in these positions, in the rain, for a long time while I held his head in my hands and cried.

The healing presence of divine love enveloped us as if we were one on a journey home to God. Dude gave me unconditional love and trust at a time when I needed it most.

Animals, as Soul, can serve as divine vehicles, opening our heart to where we can give and receive love. When I practice my spiritual exercises, it feels as if I’m riding a wave of love to God, back home where I came from. When it’s time to leave this world, I know Dude will be there, waiting for me to sing HU with him.

—Photos by Paula Flint

A Contemplation Seed

You are invited to reflect on the spiritual messages in this story by contemplating on this passage from The Sound of Soul, by Sri Harold Klemp:

What is HU?

It is a very holy name for God. In it are contained all sounds.

When you sing HU, know that this is one of the most sacred names for God. Sing it with love and with reverence. Look for the Light, listen for the Sound.

People singing softly to each other, the song is of the HU. People laughing, the laughter is of the HU. And even when there are people crying, the crying is of the HU.

The falling rain, its sound is of the HU. And the birds, and the wind.

These are all the sound of HU.