We are beloved companions on a mystic journey, sharing our solitude and holding the world in the divine prayer of love.

"Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory. Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance. And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation."
- from St. Clare's third letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hermitage Cat

Shiku, the Hermitage Kitten
Julian of Norwich shared her hermitage with a cat, a small presence that must have had great import for her, as icons of the saint include her feline companion.

At Casa Chiara we have the blessing of many animal companions--wild ones as well as Mo, the hermitage dog. Visiting us each day are a herd of at least four deer, two foxes, a flurry of birds, a covey of quail, and in summer, helpers such as our lizards and tree frogs.

The day after Christmas I was in working in the kitchen when I heard a strange sound. Turning to the window I saw a kitten holding for dear life to the screen. By the time John and I got outside she was hiding under the thorn bush. He fed her. At that moment, says the vet, she claimed this as home. I went for two weeks refusing to give her a name because while the wild ones may have whatever access they have always had to this place; I insisted I do not want a cat in the house. But I ought to have learned by now that I don't always get to have things my way! The vet said she probably would prefer living outside because she showed the social behaviors of a feral cat, probably learned from her mother. Oh good, I thought, she can be another of the wild ones. Yesterday the sun shone brightly and Shiku sat on the deck railing grooming herself. I took thirty pictures of her.

Not more than two minutes later, while we were still watching her, John saw a shadow. Shiku turned her head to the left. Suddenly a hawk swooped in on her. Wings, feathers, so close--I've never seen a hawk in flight so close. A flurry and a tumble and two humans yelling NO. The bird flew away but Shiku barely missed being in those talons.

She's still very small. Three pounds. So today we will fix the garage for her. She's part of us.

"Nature is red in tooth and claw," I know. It applies to all of us, all the wee things, all the giants. Sometime before we lay our separate selves aside, we learn participation, and spend the remainder of our being here in passing back and forth, inhabiting the souls of this and that from all of which we learn the extent of what we are and are called to be. Shiku (the lion) is with us now as a teacher. May we learn well.

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