“The quality of mercy is not strain’d;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.”
~ Portia, “The Merchant of Venice”
“It’s a hard world for little things.”
~ Rachel Cooper, “The Night Of The Hunter”
The Integrity Challenge: Week 4
I fielded a few curve balls this week. Some that I saw coming and some that I had no clue about. My promise to myself this week was to visit the new library at my old college and while I was there I crossed another promise off by also visiting an academic counselor to review my records. So as far as my promises this week, I was done.
What also happened this week was that my cat, who is primarily an indoor cat because she’s blind and requires special care, took an unexpected stroll out of my yard and disappeared for a couple of days. Needless to say, situations like this are where the rubber meets the road in spiritual practice. The first day I did what I know how to do, I prayed and asked all those around me to do the same. My prayer request was clear, “Come home, Kim!” I prayed and I waited.
The second day was more challenging because human nature started kicking in and the storytelling machine cranked into high gear. I started questioning why she would leave the yard when she hasn’t done so in years. She’s 16 and has various physical challenges, maybe she wandered off to die like an old Eskimo voluntarily going out on the ice floe? Then there was the neighbor I talked to who was convinced that she’d been eaten by a coyote. (By the way, if you happen to be making a list about what not to say to a concerned pet owner when his or her pet goes missing, please feel free to appropriate that comment for your list.)
Well-meaning friends had suggestions about what I should do at a time like this. All were practical, sensible things, and I did them all. More stories about what could have happened to her were spun. Other concerned friends stayed upbeat and positive knowing she would come home and we would be together again soon.
My spiritual practice and my (surprising!) sanity was a huge blessing in the midst of all this. I listened to the stories I was hearing from others about what had happened to their lost pets, and I was listening to the stories I was telling myself about what could have happened to her, but I stayed calm and maintained my equanimity.
Isn’t the mind an amazing thing? When confronted with the unknown it works overtime to come up with answers rather than accepting the uncomfortable uncertainties it faces. The blessing of a strong spiritual practice is the ability to shift into the witness consciousness and dwell in the mystery while maintaining a simultaneous awareness. In plain terms, there’s no “spiritual bypass” going on, you feel what you feel, but there’s also the awareness that you can’t possibly know what’s going on in the bigger picture. Faith invites us to rest in the unknown and to trust in the benevolence of the Universe.
As the clock ticked by and Kim was nowhere to be found I started feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, so in the second day I tackled the situation like a detective, knocking on doors, questioning more neighbors and leaving notes for those who I knew were home, but wouldn’t come to the door. I got my big break when my next door neighbor, who has made it clear that he does not like cats, immediately responded by phone to the note I had taped on his door.
He told me he had seen her the day before in the morning and that she was walking very slowly headed south. So I focused my neighborly investigation in that direction, and got more good news a few houses down that she had been seen truckin’ down the street on the second day as well. This blew my mind because Kim can’t even find her food dish without directional help most days.
Amped up by this news, I looked under cars, I called her name, I talked to the neighborhood cats and dogs and told them to help her find her way back home. I came home that evening and hit social media lost and found sites, I made up the flyer above and was just printing it out when I heard the welcome sound of her yelling at me from the back patio.
There she was, my little blind miracle cat, home safe and sound under her own steam. She was dirty and thirsty, but looked essentially fine. What had happened to her? Where had she been? Why had she gone away? And how had she gotten home?
I have no idea. I’m choosing to dwell in the mystery of it all. I could make up a great story about it though, perhaps a blog post? Hmmmm…
“My Word Is Law: The Integrity Challenge” Event
A promise a week for 52 weeks