~by Louis Templeman
October 7, 2015: Loving Animals
My two black cats, Flo and Jet, usually join me as I start my morning walk. I am careful to see they do not follow me too far, even though this is their neighborhood and I’m sure they know it better than I. They usually stop at the first or second corner and watch after me until I disappear. When I pull up to the curb at my home they recognize the sound of my car and come running from whatever mischief they are up to in the neighbors’ yards. They come up to me at curb side or on the sidewalk. They roll over on their backs for belly rubs. And, sometimes they walk ahead of me or between my feet as I go up to my front door.
I’ve never had cats who acted like this. I must admit I find their affection affirming. Their attachment gives me a feeling of value. It is no small pleasure to have this bond with these two little animals. I suppose I have developed an emotional bond with Flo and Jet. I value them as an important part of my life.
As I make my thirty minute walk I am always aware of the neighborhood cats, squirrels, cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds and such. I always feel a little special when a bird or squirrel lets me get close before they scatter. Today I got within three feet of a chickadee on my feeder. I did not see her until I noticed her giving me the sideways, one-eyed stare before she hid in the branches of my tulip poplar. Getting close to a wild animal or becoming affectionate with a domesticated one holds a universal appeal. There seems to be some connection for me when this happens.
There is a primal echo in all of us. No matter how hip or sophisticated or successful or educated we become there is always that desire or instinct to connect with wild life. This is why we have bird feeders, pets, zoos, the Discovery channel and National Geographic.
We want to believe there may be something unspoiled inside us. The contentment of animals and their easy fit within the environment is rather beautiful to most of us who work so hard, encounter such stress and eat medications by the hands full. Perhaps, that which placed them and equipped them for their wild existence has also equipped us. It is a spiritual matter. Most people admit to feeling close to God by getting close to nature.
Our environment is the home with which God gifted us; and the animals and all living things are our neighbors. We do well to love and respect our home and our neighbors.
…ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air and they will tell you; or speak
to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does
not know . . . the hand of the Lord . . . . In his hand is the life of every creature and the
breath of all mankind.
Job 12: 7 – 10.
I don’t know if Flo and Jet can read me. I do believe that I can read them and in them I find the beauty and grace and peace of God.
Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.
CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive