Rabbi Lawrence Kushner once wrote: “…people chosen to be messengers of the Most High rarely even know that they are His messengers.” (Honey from the Rock, p. 68). So, too, with animals.
Our cat Athena was diagnosed with cancer on December 27. When asked if we wanted to put her down, my wife opted to bring her home. Thus began the lessons.
Athena was an extraverted cat, a rarity since cats tend to be aloof. So Athena had already taught us a few lessons about unconditional love.
Mind you, I have been privileged to accompany several people on their final journey, my mother included. All were wonderful teachers. I suppose because she was a cat with an uncomplicated life, Athena’s lessons were straight forward.
First of all, she reminded me of living life a day at a time and to cherish simple pleasures. She would rise each morning, slowly walk to a living room window, and rest in the sun for an hour or so. In the evening, she would find my wife and sit quietly in her lap, watching “Downton Abbey” and the like.
While my wife was out of town to a workshop, Athena would find me and sit in my lap watching Indiana basketball or lie in the crook of my arm on the floor with me, watching the likes of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. She reminded me that life is rich when kept simple. She reminded me too that there is much I take for granted.
She reminded me that simple presence is a great gift. Too often I get caught up in doing for others and not simply being with them. With Athena, her presence was a gift.
I have read about “Green Theology” and the spirituality of taking care of earth. Athena in her own gentle way reminded me that not only do I need to take care of God’s creation. I also need to listen and learn.
Reflection: Have pets and/or nature enriched your spiritual journey in any way?