What Shows Up

>    I’ve written about my love of animals before. Those who know me well are aware that it borders on the irrational at times. I don’t know why I have such a sensitivity to their plight, particularly their suffering, but I do know that because of it I have always panicked somewhat in the face of an injured animal and, because of that panic, been of little practical value in bringing relief. So, it was with shock that last week I saw a cat hit by a car and stopped to assist the animal.
    It was Thanksgiving Day and I was off to the store to pick up a forgotten cooking ingredient when I passed a cat laying in the middle of the opposite oncoming lane. It had just been hit by a passing car.
    Without giving it any thought, I made a U-turn, pulled over to the side of the road, put my emergency flashers on, and got out of my car. As I approached the cat I bent down and tried to determine if it had any signs of life, but it didn’t. A passerby slowed and asked if I was all right and I said I was so he continued on. I gently cradled the cat in my arms and looked around.
    There were many houses lining the roadway. I approached the one closest to where I was standing and a teenage girl answered the door. When I asked her if she knew whose cat this might be, she replied “I think it’s mine.” Her look was one of disbelief and confusion, so I asked her if her parents were home and she said her mother was inside. I asked her to please get her mother to come to the door. When the mother arrived at the door she confirmed, also with disbelief and a look of confusion, that it was their cat. With the cat still in my arms, the mother said, “I can’t take it. My husband died two weeks ago. Forty-four years old. He just died and we don’t know why. And now this. How can it be? He isn’t even an outdoor cat. He was just in my bedroom. How can this be?”
    Of course, I instantly understood the looks of disbelief and confusion on their faces as they had each come to answer the door.   Sometimes Life seems to pile on just a bit too much at once.
    Inside I was grieving for this beautiful, young cat…but I was also asking myself what could I possibly say to alleviate the suffering of this family. I began to speak to the mother about my beliefs around death and how we never lose anyone and the ever-present Soul…all the while continuing to cradle this sweet animal in my arms.
    After sharing my beliefs, I asked the mother if she wanted me to help her bury him. She said no, that she just wanted to hold him for awhile then they would bury him. As I passed his body over to her arms, we both wept. Then the mother looked at me with a puzzled look and said, “Who are you? What’s your name?” I told her my name and through her tears she lovingly replied, “Thank you. Thank you so much. You did the right thing.”
    We embraced each other, the cat in her arms and warm against both our bodies. She continued to weep so I whispered into her ear, “You will be fine. You are strong. You have a daughter who needs you now.”
    I got back in my car and went home.  
    I could not continue on to the store that Thanksgiving Day after what happened. I returned home and sat outside with the trees and the birds in my backyard for awhile and fully allowed myself to feel the sadness and suffering I had just passed through. I thought about whether or not my efforts of consolation were of any value at all, or just my egoic need to see myself as helpful. Then I remembered the mother’s words. “Thank you. Thank you so much. You did the right thing.”
changed in my life that allowed me to stop instead of panicking that day are three important
realizations. First, living in the present is all there is. Secondly,
an understanding of how we are all connected as One. Thirdly, handling
what shows up, without judgment, is what Life is about and what gives it depth of meaning.
    This morning someone said that as a practicing Christian he “rarely gives charity to individuals but instead gives it to organizations because as a Christian he believes in the order and perfection of things and organizations are in a better position to help in a methodical and meaningful way.” I could not disagree more.
    Every day we are each presented with opportunities to be of assistance to another, other life forms, or the planet in general. Those opportunities are ours alone for a purpose. We are each Creator
experiencing Itself repeatedly in ways that are uniquely you and uniquely me. I don’t believe we are to turn over or abdicate our personal responsibilities, or opportunities, as they show up.
  My view on all of this may be right for me but not for you. You may choose to agree with the Christian who expressed the views he did.
    But I can tell you this.
    How I now see Life allowed me to stay present and focused in the face of what would have previously been my panic…and to figurative as well as literally embrace and become One with two people during a time of suffering.
    I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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