I made a conscious decision to unplug and keep the focus on the inside journey of the soul while attending school at The Abbey in Pecos. But my writing continued in a plethora of notebooks and journals – recording the events of the day as well as how the Spirit (with a capital S) moved among and through us. I’ll be posting more of these as they unwind – falling to form the mosaic that I know God created in me, and all of us as one Body of Christ.
Meantime I’ll re-post what came from my retreat visit in 2012. How happy I was when I arrived this year and found Minou still hanging about with tall-cat prowess!
I hope you enjoy reading about Minou, and that you might find a sense of God’s Spirit and sink into the awe and wonder of His presence in nature – be it in Pecos, or home – wherever that is.
Minou the Masterful Cat (originally posted October 12, 2012)
After calming down from what I initially judged to be inconsiderate noise (humans talking loudly in the toasty, comfy grate room of Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos near Santa Fe, New Mexico), I settled in as an observer of the tall tiger cat meditatively padding around posts, and corners, table legs, rockers and potted plants. My heart grew fuller and fuller as she continued what surely were her well worn routes of a late afternoon.
She jumped with graceful feline aim, landing on top of the upright piano with those cat-eyes staring longingly towards the 10’ pine rafters that straddle the southwestern-styled room. You have to admire a cat’s consistent optimism – always looking up with machinations to higher ascensions.
There she sat, on her imaginary mountain top; grooming, looking around and down and up and over her assumed domain. And then, in her own time, which is to say the only time cats really know, she leapt down and roamed lazily to where I sat sunken in an overstuffed, rather worn and torn couch. Her wide dark eyes turned up my way. And there, for a fleeting but deeply shared moment, without physical touch or sound and in the practice of this silent community, we connected with unspoken understanding and a nothing-required ease. This may sound trivial – this resistance to not force or try to control or capture a cat’s attention, but it is not.
Since childhood my spirit flees to glee with possibility of connecting with and holding furry animals of ground and flight; with an almost magical belief in being like the dogs, and kitties, and bunnies, and birds, I hold my breath and wait in the tension of wanting to hold vs letting them be. But here in this spiritual stillness, with this cat, my calmer adult overrides such childish instincts to grab, coax and cajole with pleading words and snapping fingers.
Is the connection between animals and humans easier in this place of practiced silence and connection without words? Is the cat now really considering moving from her prideful island to the cushions beside me?
Well, I’ll be. She is now sitting closely – stretching full length albeit with head facing away from me. She’s purring, preening, contentedly grooming – and she needs to – she smells of the outdoors and all things wild that live in these high deserts places!
If I were to name her today, I would name her Master, as in masterly. (I happen to know her real name is Minou, which I’m told is French for little kitty.) But whatever name, whatever language, she is a cat.
She acts like a cat. She sometimes roams freely in the wooly under-brush world of rodents and ants and grasses and dung, and at others strolls under-foot with people who fail to speak the same language or eat the same foods. Yet, no matter where she is, what she is seeing or hunting or who sees her, she remains a cat. And that seems to me to be a life lived masterfully – living in all places and with all companions one’s true nature rightly balanced without falsehoods.
I love this. I love sharing this silent time of observation and connection without words. Now the call is to practice the same unconditional allowances with my self and my fellow humans.
Masterfully done Minou. The bells are ringing for Vespers.