Sitting here with the calico cat on my lap – watching her ears twitch, feeling the breath going in and out of her warm body. She is 16. I’ve had her since she was a four-week old feral kitty – hissing and scratching and scared. I’ve shared almost all her life with her – from the beginning to today. She trusts me now – trusts me enough to jump into my lap and curl up there, and let herself be petted.
Now that she’s older I sometimes find myself thinking about that moment when my calico cat will no longer be with me. I think about death.
This year a lot of people I’ve known and cared for have died. November was especially challenging – a former student, a man who became my friend after he and his wife read one of my books, and a friend of mine from my walks in Bellingham all passed on. Last week a dear woman in her 90’s with a kind heart, a stalwart faith, and a twinkle in her eyes – a woman who had been a member of our church most of her life – passed on. It’s all gotten me to thinking about the nature of death – what it is and what it isn’t.
The thought came to me the other day that death isn’t really an “event” – that there really aren’t any seams or borders or divisions separating one part of life from another – but that it’s forever flowing in an endless stream. It’s true that I can’t see the friends that have passed on, but I can tell you there are times when I feel their love. Death can’t end the love we have for one another.
It probably seems weird to connect the insights I’ve had about death to the Superbowl – but that’s where my pointy little noggin went when I contemplated the end of the Seahawks season this morning. If only the game could have gone on a little longer, I thought, the Seahawks might still have been able to pull it off. “But it’s done. Over. Ended. It is what it is. And the magnificent catch by Kearse, the receptions by Matthews, the runs that Lynch made, the colossal efforts of Russell Wilson and his teammates – none of that matters now because they lost.” Those were my initial thoughts. But when I stopped thinking about the Superbowl as an “Event” – when I started thinking of the game as just a step in an endless progression – a step towards progress – a character-builder – another life-lesson – my feeling about it changed.
I would like to think that all the lessons we’re learning here – the lessons about honesty, compassion, integrity, friendship, courage, perseverance, honor, selflessness, generosity, love – are lessons we can build on and carry with us as we ride the current down the stream. It doesn’t make sense to me that all of that learning can abruptly come to an end at the close of a Superbowl, or a life.
My calico cat is with me in this moment – alive and breathing – and this moment is forever.
The continual contemplation of existence as material and corporeal – as beginning and ending, and with birth, decay, and dissolution as its component stages – hides the true and spiritual Life, and causes our standard to trail in the dust.
– Mary Baker Eddy