Living & Growing: Our spiritual teachers

The cat is the most perceptive and graceful of all animals.

  • By Page Bridges
  • Thursday, January 26, 2023 11:41am
  • Neighbors

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” — Charles Dickens

If you recognize this format with the quotes, it means you read the “dog essay” two weeks ago. That is what Roger Wharton calls his Living & Growing piece about the friendship between us and dogs.

People have told me they love his article, and I am proud to say I edited it. Roger teased me that it was about dogs, not cats. I said I would change all the dogs to cats, and he said that would not work. But it will work to write a companion piece about our other best friend, the cat.

Page Bridges is a member at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (Courtesy Photo)

“I believe cats are spirits come to earth.” — Jules Verne

“I have lived with several Zen teachers, all of them cats.” — Eckhart Tolle

A lot of people have said to me, “Cats are my teachers.” They teach us so many things. One thing they have taught me is about the enjoyment of simple pleasures. They are happy playing with a piece of string or sitting in a sunbeam. My cats are helping me live more fully and be more peaceful.

Cats are heaven sent to help us learn to see, to perceive, to be patient, to be accepting. They teach us to feel deep love and compassion.

I have so much compassion for these treasured angelic beings that are so often mistreated. They are so small and vulnerable. They are so kind and loving toward human beings, yet some consider them evil. How can any animal be evil? When I was a child, I hated dogs, but later, I realized that no animal is deserving of hate, not even spiders.

“How you behave toward cats here below determines your status in heaven.” — Robert Heinlein

I grew up with cats in my cradle. They have kept me going through all kinds of difficulties throughout my life. Cats make people happy. Petting their soft fur raises your serotonin. Their purr is recognized as one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. The comfort of hearing their purr and feeling their touch when you are down is a blessing beyond words. One friend told me it is like having a little piece of heaven.

As I said, I grew up with cats in my cradle. It was a beautiful way to begin my life. In his Living and Growing, Roger Wharton told a story about a dog. Here is my story about cats.

It is a story so often told of cats, how they save their families from fire or gas that they can detect before people. The particular story here that I am repeating is also common. I saw this story on TV. A woman told how her cat desperately got her attention and led her upstairs. Through a closed door, the cat had heard that her baby was not breathing. The family cat saved the family baby.

Yet, there is a myth that cats smother babies. The cats in my cradle never smothered me. This myth has as its basis the fact that a cat will jump on a baby’s chest if the baby has stopped breathing. The cat is desperately concerned. That is why it is up there. People will come into the room not realizing that the reason for the baby’s death is SIDS. They “get rid of the cat.” This scenario breaks my heart. The cat was trying to help.

Deeply spiritual people often have hate coming after them. It is the story of Jesus. The animal who is more deeply perceptive than all others also has hate coming after it.

The cat is the most perceptive and graceful of all animals. Along with its fellow gift from heaven, the dog, it lifts and sustains us. It is not evil. The evil is in the eye of the beholder.

‘There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” — Albert Schweitzer

• Page Bridges is a member at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

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