Free The Hikers

This past weekend, I had the privilege of meeting Cindy Hickey while I was teaching in Minnesota. In every seminar, I have a deep conviction that there is at least one dog and one person that I am there to help in some way. Additionally, in each seminar I give, there are blessings and lessons that I take away from the dogs and people I work with and meet.

Cindy Hickey is one of those gifts that the Universe sees fit to bestow upon me. A talented canine sports massage therapist, she is sharp, with eyes that miss very little, see much, and a heart which can only be described as deeply compassionate. As I learned more about her, I became more and more impressed by her as a professional, as a person, and then I learned that through it all, she was carrying a heavy burden: her son Shane is one of the three hikers being held captive in an Iranian prison.

Show me someone who is steady and clear in the best of times, and I know very little. Show me someone who is clear and steady in the worst of times, and I know a lot about who they are. Cindy has the rare gift of truly being in the moment, whether that's attending to the dog walking past for evaluation or participating in the seminar or working with the media by phone to arrange conferences regarding her son Shane and his friends, Josh and Sarah.

If animals teach us anything, it is that we are all connected. What happens to us happens to all. Though we may retreat fearfully into smaller worlds that ask less of us, the awareness we seek in our relationships with our dogs and other animals and people must also expand into a deep awareness of and connection to the bigger world. We also need to know what it is we can do to help in any situation. That may be saying a prayer as we drive past an accident scene, asking that all involved be guided and guarded, feeling the pain and fear and compassion radiating past the immediate scene and those involved to all who care for them, and in turn, all who care for them, and in turn, the ripples spreading through the world. It may mean picking up the phone and calling your Senator or representative (it doesn't take long, and it does make a difference). It may mean voting with your checkbook to support organizations doing the work every day that you might choose to turn away from, whether that's defending wildlife & wilderness or feeding the homeless or trying to bring order to the chaos of disaster. In whatever way you can, give a bit of yourself, because we are all in this together.

These three young people are in the middle of an uncertain situation. It is delicate, involving a government that is at odds with our own US government. It is a culturally uneasy balance, with perspectives and views not easily aligned from either side. And yet, larger political considerations aside (and they are many), these three - Shane, Josh, Sarah -- remain beloved family members, cherished friends, someone's son, someone's daughter.

I do not know Shane or the others. But I have looked into his mother's eyes, and what I see there has touched me as few people have ever done. Join me in joining Cindy and the other families in keeping prayers pouring towards the prison cells far away, supporting Josh, Shane and Sarah. Visit the website to learn more

Sign a petition - it takes just a minute of your time, and can make a difference. Make a donation. Spread the word. Most of all, pass it on ---- FREE THE HIKERS - www.freethehikers.org

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Author Suzanne Clothier

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