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.

More in Neighbors

The Pinkas Synagogue, the second-oldest building in Prague. (World Monuments Fund photo)
Living and Growing: Connecting to family ancestors through names of strangers on a wall in Prague

“Prague never lets you go…this dear little mother has sharp claws.” —… Continue reading

Individual eggplant parmesan rounds ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Individual eggplant parmesan rounds

These flavorful eggplant parmesans are a great side dish, especially served with… Continue reading

An aspiring knight relies on duct tape for his medieval battle gear during the Master’s Faire on July 16, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Gimme A Smile: Duct tape — an Alaskan’s best friend

Duct tape is an Alaskan tradition. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix… Continue reading

Fred LaPlante is the pastor at the Juneau Church of the Nazarene. (Photo courtesy of Fred LaPlante)
Living and Growing: Be a blessing

Years ago, I learned a great acronym, B.L.E.S.S. “B” stands for “Begin… Continue reading

Salad ingredients ready to assemble. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Mexican corn and bean salad

Several years ago, I ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Los… Continue reading

A new online dictionary features Lingít, X̱aad Kíl, Shm’algyack and English. (Mircea Brown / Courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)
Neighbors: Sealaska Heritage Institute debuts multilingual online Alaska Native dictionary with audio

Platform includes resources for Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Brent Merten is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Juneau, a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. (Photo courtesy of Brent Merten)
Living and Growing: Your room is waiting

Thursday, May 9, is a very special day. Although most calendars don’t… Continue reading

The interior of the Pipeline Skate Park on Dec. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Join interactive design meeting for Jackie Renninger Park on May 21 CBJ… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Living and Growing: Twisting Scripture to suit themselves

Ever wonder why so many different people say so many different things… Continue reading

The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Neighbors: Public input sought as Tongass begins revising 25-year-old forest plan

Initial phase focuses on listening, informing, and gathering feedback.

Sister Sadria Akina, Elder Tanner Christensen and Elder Bronson Forsberg, all missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, collect litter on April 22, 2023, in the Lemon Creek area. It was their first time partaking in Juneau’s communitywide cleanup. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Annual Litter Free citywide cleanup on Saturday Saturday is set for Litter… Continue reading

Tortilla beef casserole ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Tortilla beef casserole for Cinco de Maya

When my kids were growing up their appetites were insatiable. Every night… Continue reading