Animal Speak says cats are attributed with a variety of energies: "Curiosity, nine lives, independence, cleverness, unpredictability, and healing..."
Never had I ever had the desire to own a cat; maybe I knew somehow that cats can't be had. But last year, during my mousecapades, getting a cat seemed like the best option. I didn't get just one cat, I got two. My intention to be a good person won out, and I adopted two cats from the shelter: a mommy and baby who weren't together in cages there. I thought I'd do the right thing and bring them back together to the "barn" at my house, which had recently become a mouse paradise. I named the mom Ingrid and the baby Cher, and I set them up in their new, warm, exciting spot. Cher was sociable, and Ingrid less so. Almost every time I checked on them, they were nursing. "Gosh this is so great," I thought. "Mommy and Baby together." My feelings of being awesome, however, were dashed two weeks in when Cher up and died. I was devastated, and my fears that I had done something wrong were gratefully diminished by my dear friend Raven. Raven works at the shelter and had helped me with the adoption. She told me sometimes kittens have "a failure to thrive," and just, die, and there's not much one can do. After going through this loss together, Ingrid and I became closer but I was determined still to keep her at a distance. She was not my cat, but the barn's.
As months passed she kept warming up to me. We spent more time together, and I got used to her independent company. When I came home this past Friday night, she didn't follow me into the house for our usual night-time-do-separate-activities-together hang time. I didn't see her on Saturday or on Sunday, and I was starting to get worried. But somehow I still knew she was okay. I contacted my neighbors, and they wrote back to say they were so sorry, they had no idea that she was my cat, and they had captured her and taken her to the local feed store which was in need of a barn cat. At the feed store, I was met with extraordinary kindness from the owner, who felt terrible; she knew upon Ingrid's arrival she was not a feral homeless cat and accepted her against her better judgment. After surveying the feed store and all of its barns twice and calling Ingrid's name to no avail, I was discouraged. We couldn't find her.
My friend Aura's cat, Albus, was missing for two whole weeks and just recently showed back up; this gave me hope. My other friend's kitten, Madonna, was out mouse hunting one evening and never came back. Madonna's mom re-framed it: although she was sad to no longer have the sweet separate company of lovely Madonna, she talked of "the great big energy called Cat." Sometimes cats come from this energy and into our lives, and sometimes they go back into it. It's their choice and not ours. Animal Speak reminds us that cats are synonymous with magic and mystery.
Maybe I had to give Ingrid back to the energy of Cat. Or maybe, as my friend Morgan so nicely re-framed, maybe Ingrid was coming up in the world, getting to be the barn cat in a big feed store versus my barn, which is really just a glorified laundry room.
My values are more and more aligned with the practice of letting go. Al Anon has taught me so much about acceptance, especially of the things I am powerless over. From this place of letting go, Mike and I went out last night, at perfect-cat-come-out time in the enchantment of a post-rain dusk, to try again to find her. Ingrid came right out, right into my arms, and ready to come home. Back at the house, she drank a shit-ton of water and fell fast asleep, ready to relax after her big adventure.
My spiritual practice is about letting go, I agree with the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson that "[s]piritual life is always about letting go. It is never about holding on." In my life in the physical world, I'm learning to "...know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em..."