06 October 2011

The hand - or paw? - of God

Lala and Hachi

I don't know if St Bruno, the founder of the Carthusians and whose feast it is today, had a dog. I know I associate his name with canines and I had an extraordinary experience with a dog named Bruno in the mid-1980s.

Bruno belonged to the retreat house of the University of San Carlos in Talamban, Cebu City. He was, as I recall, part-Labrador, or at least the size of one and liked to be around people. I was giving a directed retreat at the time and sometimes would meet with a retreatant outside, as the weather was quite hot. On occasion Bruno would come and put his front paws on my knees and, after I patted him and spoke a few friendly words, would wander off.

One night I couldn't sleep because of a very strong and unusual feeling of loneliness. Around midnight I went outside and sat on the low wall outside looking down on the lights of Cebu City. The retreat house is built on a hillside. I was telling God how sorry for myself I was feeling and suddenly felt something on my left shoulder. It was Bruno's right front paw, as if to tell me 'Hindi ka mag-iisa', You're not alone'. ('Hinda ka mag-iisa' is a Tagalog slogan that became very popular after the murder of Benigno Aquino Jr on the tarmac of Manila Airport in 1983).

I hadn't heard Bruno running across the grass and I truly believe that he had sensed my feeling of loneliness, which disappeared immediately after he joined me. I gave him a big hug, said 'thank you' to the Lord, went back to bed and slept peacefully.

I'm not sure if the chant in the first part of the video is sung by Carthusian nuns and that in the second part by Carthusian monks. 

You can find the official website of the Carthusian Order here.

St Bruno of Cologne (c.1030-1101) painted by José de Ribera (painted 1643)

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