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Having a Pet As a Spiritual Practice

Last night I was grateful to sleep for a full night, deeply. The night before? Not so much.

Our kitty, Lucy, had discovered a mouse during the day. Z called me to warn me that the cat had a mouse. She was on her way out of town and wanted me to know what I was coming home to. It made coming home very . . . well . . . different.

Aware that my thoughts help to create my reality, I came home scared. Yes, I was cognizant of the fact that if it came down to a battle between me and a mouse, I would surely win. But my mind did not feel calmed sufficiently by this. Honestly. I was freaked out!

I kept recalling the night years before when a mouse, thinking it was running to safety from the cat who was chasing it, ran UP MY PANTLEG! No kidding. Now that was a shock. One of those things I laugh about today.

I did not see this mouse though. Not until after I heard it. I figured I’d fall asleep and command myself to sleep through any noises. If I heard noises, I would know what they might be, after all. So how about I sleep through them? Not so.

First I started to hear those high little squeaks. I had forgotten they made that sound. Heartbreaking sound, that.

Torn between wanting to save the mouse and wanting to have Lucy finish its little life, I tossed in bed. Then I heard it start to climb the laundry basket. You can imagine that sound a basket makes? Yeah. Like that.

Finally, at 1 a.m., I gave up. I decided to make the downstairs guest bed and sleep in it. As I walked to the cupboard for sheets, I had to pass by the laundry basket. There was the little mouse, darting back down from having been sitting on top of it. I admit it – I screamed out loud and got shivers as I ran for my – ummm – life?

As I made the downstairs bed, I became aware of another level – my desire not to claim any responsibility. Struggling with the futon frame, I heard myself think something harsh about “Z’s cat.” This is part of the beauty of co-owning a pet who had belonged to one person before. When the cat is sweet and adorable, she is our cat. But that night, she was not my cat. She was definitely Z’s cat! I guess for this part of mind, my cat would be vegetarian? Hmmm.

Once downstairs in bed, I meditated myself into a calm. I reminded myself that the mouse that had run up my pantleg did not bite me. I told myself that the likelihood of this mouse making it down the stairs and through the crack at the door was nearly impossible. And I reminded myself that there was really nothing I could do about any of it. One thing did occur to me though.

I recently ran into my friend Jerry at Community Market. He’s recently retired. He’s gotten more deeply into a specific form of Buddhism. One thing he tracks in his daily life is being kind to others. This includes all living beings. It occurred to me that maybe I could call Jerry and ask him if he wanted to come over and save the mouse. But I didn’t think he’d appreciate the opportunity.

Ah, the silliness of the mind – and of domesticated animals. The strangeness, even, that we bring certain animals into our homes and call them “ours.” Lucy clearly does not think that she belongs to me, or to Z for that matter. She is clearly her own person – ah – cat. There is the good possibility, however, that we belong to her.

Either way, it always serves me to practice surrender. And this was a wonderful opportunity for the practice of surrendering. Thank you, Lucy! :-)


 
 

2 Responses to “Having a Pet As a Spiritual Practice”

  1. Eileen
    May 29, 2011 at 11:40

    MY CHOCOLATE LAB MISCHA (7 YR) HAS BEEN MY LIFESAVER SINCE THE MOMENT OF HER BIRTH. REALLY. jUST AFTER BRINGING HER HOME AS A LITTLE ITTY-BITTY BALL OF FUR I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH MS, AND A NUMBER OF OTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS AND WITHIN A YEAR HAD TO ‘RETIRE’ BECAUSE I WAS UNABLE TO DO THE WORK I DID ANYMORE. I ALSO HAD TO GIVE UP MY CAR. I WAS NOT A HAPPY CAMPER AS I’M SURE YOU CAN IMAGINE. THERE HAVE BEEN DAYS WHEN THE ONLY REASON I EVEN GET OUT OF BED IS BECAUSE MISCHA NEEDS MY ATTENTION. SHE SEEMS TO KNOW WHEN MY PAIN LEVEL IS WAY UP, SHE SEEMS TO READ MY MIND WHEN I AM SILENTLY WISHING I HAD A WARM BODY TO HUG. GOD BLESS HER – GOD LIVES IN HER.

    THANK YOU MELISSA FOR ALL OF YOUR BEAUTIFUL MUSIC AND WORDS.

    LOVE,

    EILEEN

  2. Melissa Phillippe
    May 30, 2011 at 16:53

    Eileen,
    Thank so much for your note.
    I think that the intuitive responding with love of pets is a testament to what we, too, have within – when we listen… SO happy for you that you have this blessing of a critter in your life! Ahhh

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