Image of a small girl sleeping on a dirt path with a large dog watching over her. Girl has a lantern as if she is on a journey.


This entry is part 30 of 33 in the series 99: a journey

When I was little, I remember wanting more than anything, the protection of my mother’s lap. If life seemed scary, or out of control, or I knew that my little 7 year-old self had gotten in over his head, mom represented safety and care and love.

If I’m honest, I still crave that safety sometimes. Though I’m lucky I can still travel acrosst the country and see Mom, (and she would probably even welcome me into her lap), that isn’t always an option.

This episode of 99 is about the name Ar Raqib – which translates loosely as “The Watchful One.”  Watchful in the way a mother watches over her children while they sleep.

Think about that for a moment…. A Mother or Father or maybe even a loyal pet – lovingly watching over you while you sleep. Let’s do a visualization.

You’re on a journey – a long, difficult one. You’re out in the wilderness trekking in search of your life’s purpose. You’ve left the familiar comfort of your home, after dark, and started walking. You are now far enough away that when you look back, you can no longer see the light from your front window. All around you is darkness. There are strange sounds, and strange smells, and it seems like danger is lurking in the shadows all around you.

You’ve walked so far now that you are getting tired. You need rest, but are hesitant to stop. You fear that if you close your eyes, whatever is lurking in the darkness will come out to find you. But then you remember, your faithful dog Wilson. You can’t imagine a more gentle creature than Wilson, who adores you, but at 150lbs and standing taller than your waist, you feel completely safe with him around.

You spot a natural  shelter formed by low-hanging pine branches over a little depression in the ground. A soft carpet of pine needles welcomes you as you sit, and then lie down to rest for a bit. The last thing you remember seeing through your fluttering eyelids is Wilson, curled up on the lip of the sheltered spot. He is resting easily next to you, and you drift off to sleep knowing that he is the Watchful One.

Not all journeys are literal ones. In your life, you have probably faced terrors and worries all your own.

Here’s the thing. Your guardian is always with you. The love of your Wilson the dog, or of your parent, or beloved isn’t limited to only them. If your parents are no longer around – or if you never had parents who filled that kind of role, you are not cut off from that kind of love and affection.

We each carry that kind of love with us. It’s part of the package that comes with being born like you were. 

Want to know how you know it’s there? You just have to know how to listen for it.

I like to use a strategy taught to me by Lena Gardner, Director of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. Lena sometimes works with audiences of  white people who want to confront their own internalized feelings of racism.

I bet you can imagine that feelings come up during this work  – powerful feelings and emotions and reactions.

Lena offered a tool at one such workshop I attended. She said that when I’m caught off guard by some powerful feeling I was having was to simply ask, “WTF?

The question: WTF? = Wasn’t That Fascinating!?

Developing this practice can help us re-flect before we re-act.  It can help reset the tone of a conversation. We can take advantage of a brief opportunity to short-circuit old habits and patterns – and to make mindful choices based on our values, rather than emotionally-driven responses to life’s challenges.


The next time you feel yourself getting angry, or frightened, or overwhelmed. Try it.

Wow… Someone said some words, and I felt rage just now. Or Shame or Guilt…. Wasn’t That Fascinating… I wonder why I’m experiencing that?

If you listen, you might hear a still, small voice from inside that is your guardian – your watcher. The voice of your guide telling you that you’re safe, and that you need to go deeper into this particular darkness. That it’s time to explore, to shift your perspective to a new view. Your inner watchful one is there and wants what is best for you.

Are you ready to start paying attention?

That watchful love – that mother’s love, or guardian’s love is a tough love. It gives endlessly, and it also pushes you to move beyond the limits you thought you had.

Notice it, my friend. Learn to listen for the voice of this inner love. Rest in its protection, and trust in its guidance.

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