Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We are All Relations

Mara, descendant of the Little Boy.
I was at the zoo this weekend, talking to the mountain lion, when I overheard a conversation between a small boy and his father.
“He’s sleeping, like me on the couch.”
“You’re not an animal, dad,” the son said.
“That’s true,” dad answered, and they moved on.
But it wasn’t true. We are animals. I’ve always had a soft spot for other animals, seeing them as kin and cousin. We put food out when we have stray cats about. We put seed out for the birds and nuts for the squirrels. When we get mice in the house, we put out humane traps to catch them live and release them to the woods. We do this because we live on the same land they do. We all share this space of city, and we do what we have to do to survive.
We do this because when we put food out, the cats leave our garbage alone. When we put seeds and nuts out, the birds and squirrels don’t eat from our garden. We find ways to co-exist. Relationships are born from kindness, human or otherwise.
There was a black and white stray cat we named Little Boy who was the dominant tomcat in our neighborhood for over seven years. He regularly came by to get some food and show us he was alive. Sometimes he had kittens with him, showing them his route, and where the kind humans lived. He died after a street fight. One of his other regulars took him to the vet and had to put him to sleep. A lot of people missed him when he was gone. How many strangers were unknowingly connected by our concern for this one cat?
We get a lot of strays in the city. When a small black and white kitten showed up on our stoop last summer, it was a familiar sight. She even bore an uncanny resemblance to our old friend and we took Mara in. A week later, a second black and white kitten showed up, same age, though she was slightly longer-haired. A local rescue helped us find her a forever home. And then the third kitten showed up, who might have been Mara’s twin; they had similar markings and the same short, stumpy tail. He also looked just like the Little Boy. We were sure they was a family. We took one in, found a home for a second, and we were watching over their brother, who did not seem interested in people at all. But we were waiting to earn his trust.
Easter Sunday, we went for a walk. I got dressed and took out the garbage. I could hear the crying of a cat bouncing around the rooftops. I turned to see if I could spy the cat, wondering if it was a hungry Little Boy, Jr. He’s been by a lot lately. At the end of our walk, we veered back a less scenic route, and immediately knew why. There was a lump in the street. It could have been a garbage bag. It wasn’t. We both knew it, at the same time. I ran across the road.
It was Mara’s brother.
I cried out. He was dead, but it had recently happened. He was warm, still limp with just a slight stiffness to his legs and tail. The blood was still fresh on the pavement, bright against the road, and he had voided himself. I knew that he was the cat I had heard crying out.
I’ve seen a lot of animals dead in the road. But none whose faces were familiar to me. I said prayers over his body, hulking in the middle of the street, daring the cars to hit me without a word. Because I couldn’t understand why, if I had heard him from my house, the people in the houses across from his body, who came out to stare at me standing in the road, hadn’t come out to help him. Because he was just an animal. Too many people stand on the other side of a closed door before responding, waiting to see if someone else is going to take care of it.
I run to the sounds of people and animals in distress. Because I would want someone to come help me, or one of my cats. I would rather find out I was concerned for nothing than find out later I could have done something.
It could have been one of my cats I picked up off the road, held in my gloved hands, and bundled into a heavy plastic bag. Little Boy, Jr. didn’t have a home. He didn’t have anyone who loved him special and the least we could do was see to the end of his life with dignity.
I would have felt that for any animal I found dead. A friend of ours offered us his woods to bury Little Boy, Jr. in. We labored in the warm sun to carve a hole in clay and stone, digging around and under thickened tree roots. We buried him in a hole between two birch trees with a view of a wooded hillside and a creek running gently beside him. We laid three pieces of silver over his body and burned sage above his grave.
When we listen to the world around us, when we step outside of ourselves, we feel the threads of connection to everything. If you meditate on that web, you feel connected to everything, and you can’t imagine being the cause of pain or sadness in another living being. And magic happens.
We went for a walk, spontaneously. We found his body moments after his last death, before another vehicle could run over where he lay in the road. People who knew his face and cared about him, found him.
It’s not that I think things happen for a reason. I don’t believe in purpose like that. But I do believe that if we can connect to the intuitive world outside of our flesh, we will find ourselves drawn to the places we need or should be. Where we can be of the most help or in the place of being helped... that thing we call luck.

We are all relations, all animals trying to survive in this world together. I treat all living things as I wish to be treated, with kindness and compassion. May we all do the same. May it be so.

1 comment:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. There are far too many strays out there with no one to love or care for them. You did something very special for Little Boy Jr and for that you are blessed.


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