We had to say goodbye to our little gray cat Emily today. We think she was about 20 years old, but we’re not sure, because she adopted us just over nine years ago, appearing in our back yard to steal our puppy’s food. She had a lot of problems, resulting from having nearly starved on her own without front claws, and having possibly been abused. She was missing half her teeth when she found us, and we think she suffered the cat version of PTSD. But over time she warmed up to all of us and became an integral part of our family. We like to think we were able to give her a nice retirement here, after all her troubles. She helped us say goodbye to another dear cat friend, Merlin, in 2000, and today we said goodbye to her.
I’ll miss her purrs, her silky, silver-gray fur, and the gentle tap of her paw when she wakened me in the mornings.
Just a few nights ago, The Lord of the Rings trilogy played on television again. We didn’t watch, because I intended to watch our DVDs again soon, but we caught the tail end of Return of the King, and the final song.
For days that song has stayed in my mind, popping into consciousness at odd moments. Today it did again, and I wondered about it, because I couldn’t recall the singer’s name, the name of the song, or the lyrics. The music just kept haunting me. So I looked it up, and remembered as soon as I sat down to do a search that it was Into the West. Annie Lennox sang it for the film. I love this song. Right now it’s helping me say goodbye to Emily. I learned that it was partially inspired by the death of young New Zealand filmmaker, Cameron Duncan, and first performed in public at his funeral. That makes it seem even more appropriate as Emily’s song of passage.
Safe journey, little friend.
The song is available as part of the soundtrack from the film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [SOUNDTRACK]
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
— Mahatma Ghandi
9 x 12 watercolor collage (click on image for larger view)
This painting’s background sat in my file cabinet for over a year, a cast aside experiment. I reworked it a little, adding bits of blue, and I nearly threw it away. But I have trouble throwing anything away. This summer I found a fallen avocado leaf I’d saved from a young tree. Its stem, when dried, curled into a spiral on its own. At first the actual leaf was part of the collage, but it proved too fragile, so I settled on a painted one. The abstract leaves were also scraps I’d painted, thought I’d never use for anything, and almost threw away.
I’m such a packrat, I’m not sure it’s good for me to get so much satisfaction from using my discards this way. Maybe it would be better not to encourage my hoarding. But I can’t argue with the sense of effervescence and growth this gives me personally. Some clutter is worth saving.
In this world, growth begins in shadow. Incubation, gestation, germination, all take place out of sight. We shelter and protect our young. As we grow, it’s a relief to duck back into familiar shadows now and then, or to at least be aware of them still behind us, to honor their place in our lives, the impetus they provided for growth, as well as a resting place at each stage of growth. Our shadows are part of our whole, they add perspective and depth to our existence. They’re a refuge when sunlight blazes too brightly and radiates summer’s heat. It’s easy to burn out under too constant, too bright a light. The cool, darker reaches sustain us and remind us that night time will come again, that winter will roll around. Everything lives and dies according to its cycle. In growth, that cycle is a trailing spiral, ever working it’s way both outward and inward, branching out, taking root, opening, closing, curling, unfurling, expanding, contracting. We come to know ourselves by incrementally opening, coming to know every self in existence, and recognizing our tiny niche in the greater whole, by seeing how the whole constantly shifts and changes, and by constantly shifting and changing ourselves as integral parts of that whole.
Fear resists change, holds it back, cutting some parts off from the whole until they wither and die. Love — loving unconditionally, embracing the whole in all its diverse elements and forms, both light and shadow — is the key to unlocking resistance and letting growth happen. Love is water dripping or condensing on leaves, trickling down stems or falling in drops to penetrate to roots. Love is water rising in vapor and mist, transpiring, evaporating to moisten other life. Love is movement, pushing its way up and out, toward the sun, stretching toward nutrients, nurturing the self, flowering, fruiting, and nourishing others, leaving seed behind to repeat the cycle.