How to look beyond the hurt.
Published: August 5, 2009
Some of my most compelling relationships have been with animals. One week in the early 1990s, I was leading a seminar at an inn in Mount Shasta, California. A tiny black kitten wandered down the hallway and found his way into my room and my heart.
My newfound friend had been born about five weeks earlier to a young female cat who could not nurse her litter. By the time the employees of the inn discovered what had happened, they believed that all the kittens had died. A few days later a small miracle occurred. The mother cat emerged from her hiding place carrying a tiny heap of bones and fur that had survived all that time without food! Immediately the staff began to nurse the kitten back to health. Acknowledging his magical strength and sheer will to survive, they named him Merlin.
Finding my room that evening, Merlin meowed at the door until I gave in to my urge to care for every animal on the entire planet and let him in. During the week of the program, he slept with me each night and sat with me each morning as I ate breakfast. He would watch me shave from the edge of the bathroom sink and stand on the edge of the bathtub as I showered. By the end of the week, Merlin and I were good friends, and I found myself tremendously attached to the little miracle with such a will to live.
Soon, Merlin and I found ourselves on a cross-country journey to my home in the high desert of northern New Mexico. He quickly became my “family,” and for the next three years he was with me each evening while I prepared dinner, and he napped beside my ancient Apple computer while I wrote my first book.
One night Merlin went outside, as he always did at that time of evening, and I never saw him again. At first I thought that maybe he’d gone exploring, as cats sometimes do, and I’d see him again soon. When he didn’t appear after two days, I began to search for him. I took no phone calls and did absolutely no business for nearly a week as I scoured the fields north of Taos, New Mexico. Was he caught in a trap that the ranchers had set for the coyotes that hunted their sheep? Maybe he was stuck in an old building or a well and couldn’t get out. Finally, I stopped looking for Merlin and began looking for traces of him: his fur or his collar. All my efforts were fruitless.
One morning as I was lying in bed just before sunrise in a dreamy half-awakened state, I simply asked for a sign. I needed to know what had happened to my friend. Before I’d even finished the question in my mind, something happened that had never happened before and has never happened since. I heard a sound coming from outside my house, then another and another. Within seconds, coming from every direction, completely encircling the property, I heard the unmistakable cry of coyotes—more than I‘d heard in all the years that I’d lived on that property.
For what seemed like minutes, they yipped and howled until just as suddenly they stopped. I had tears in my eyes as I said out loud, “I don’t think Merlin is with me any longer.” In that moment, I was shown what had happened to him, and that I would never see him again.
Later the same day, I began to see coyotes all over the property—in broad daylight! Certainly I’d seen them in the past, yet always before, they’d appeared at sunset or just before sunrise. Today, they were everywhere in the middle of the afternoon—single ones, two or three together, young pups and families, all casually strolling through the fields.
The loss of Merlin hurt me. In my hurt, I could have gone after each coyote, one by one, thinking that “this is the one” that took my friend. I could have stood high on the top of a farm building with a rifle in my hands and avenged Merlin’s death until there were no coyotes left in the entire valley. I could have done all that…and nothing would have changed. Merlin would still be gone.
That afternoon as I drove along the dusty gravel road that weaves its way through the valley to the highway, I had my first experience of “blessing.” I blessed Merlin in his passing, acknowledging him and all of the joy that he brought into my life. That was the easy part. Then I began to bless the coyotes, especially the ones that took his life. Before long, I actually began to feel an odd sort of kinship with them. I knew that what had happened was not an intentional act to hurt me. They simply did what coyotes do! I blessed myself in trying to make sense of why nature sometimes seems so cruel.
At first nothing seemed to happen. I was so hurt that I couldn’t let the blessing “in.” Within a couple of repetitions, however, the change began. The feeling started as warmth in my stomach that swelled as it spread throughout my body in all directions. As my eyes welled with tears, I found myself gasping big sobs. I pulled to the side of the road and did my best to bless until there was no energy left.
The thing about the act of blessing is that the world doesn’t change; it’s only we who change! In our willingness to acknowledge and release whatever it is that has hurt us, the world looks different and we become stronger, healthier people.
Excerpted from Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden. Copyright © 2006
New York Times best selling author Gregg Braden is internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality. For more than 22 years, Gregg has searched high mountain villages, remote monasteries, and forgotten texts to uncover their timeless secrets. Visit: www.GreggBraden.com.
Thank you for sharing your story, I truly empathise with you, it is only just a few months ago I realized that my cat must have passed, none of my neighbours had seen him either, I have never connected with a cat like I did with him.
From being tiny he would softly meow at me every time I asked him something, at first I named gizmo I just knew he didn't like that, so I asked him what did he want to be called I said what do you think about Tigger, because your always pouncing about like Tigger in Whinnie the pooh, he meowed, so I knew he approved...
My neighbour was fascinated by this, as was I no other pets have responded to me this way when I spoke to them...
I kept saying how much I missed him. To be honest I have not gotten to the point of blessing him yet, I still keep hoping he will show up, you know what was strange I could walk to Asda and on my way home I'd either see him sat round the corner from the entrance, or I'd see him snooping in the grass , I would shout his name he always looked up from what he was doing and meow.. I really miss him, not sure if I'm ready to let go fully yet...