My daughter Sarah’s two-year-old calico cat Lily came to live with us during Christmas. Sarah raised her as an indoor/outdoor cat. This worked where she lived in Santa Fe but is difficult where we live on a remote mesa near Abiquiu Lake. There are many predators such as coyotes, great horned owls, rattle snakes and the occasional bob cat. Lily is a fierce hunter of birds, lizards, mice and bugs. Therefore I also did not want to let her outside because we have a gorgeous walled flower garden that attracts many birds. As Lily was getting to know us during the winter it was not difficult to keep her inside, however with warmer weather she very much wanted to go out.
As Lily became my little companion, or as a friend said my familiar, it was up to me to come up with a solution. I tried taking her out with a harness and a leash. However she hated it and I did not have the heart to continue. I decided to let her out so long as I walked with her. It soon developed into rearranging my day so that I take her out for a walk first thing in the morning for at least an hour, then after lunch and Rick takes her out into the garden in the evening. To our relief she let the birds alone and focuses on hunting lizards, mice and moths. She eats the moths, catches the lizards and mice then lets them go to chase again. When they play dead, she leaves them alone. Of course some of them die.
As Lily and I have become more used to each other our walks have turned into lessons in patience, trust and letting go fear for her safety. Being bit by a rattle snake right in front of me escalated my fear and stress level. She survived after three anti-venom shots. Lily constantly tests boundaries. Because she blends in so well with the foliage sometimes I panic if I lose sight of her. Then Rick and I call and search only to have her show up unscathed. After lots of stress we’ve settled into a comfortable walking relationship where she does not venture too far and I trust when she chases a lizard, she’ll always return. While hunting she is slow, patient and constantly curious following her nose, eyes and ears¾being patient then racing after a lizard. Sometimes she stops, lays down in the shade and appreciates just being. Sometimes she climbs a tree and sometimes she senses danger and races home.
I’ve always collected the gorgeous colorful rocks of northern New Mexico. With the rocks I’ve created an eleven-fold labyrinth, a snake, a yin yang, spirals, a star mandala, and a medicine wheel. Now while walking with Lily, I’m gathering rocks to create a butterfly. With Lily’s slow meandering pace I’m noticing, appreciating and seeing many more beautifully colored rocks. They were always there but now I’m seeing more of them with the slow pace. Lily teaches me to be in the here and now, to slow down and appreciate all the beauty that surrounds me¾with full attention on the process.
The more I let go my fear and trust Lily is held safe, the more she meanders closer to home and then returns if I lose site of her. Walking with Lily is only possible by being totally present, in the moment, being in balance. There is no other way to be for this relationship to work. She’s teaching me how to be in relationship with the closest people in my life¾to slow down, pause, appreciate boundaries, to see past difficulties in order to see with the eyes of the heart and listen with the ears of the heart. And most importantly she teaches me to let go fear and trust everyone is embraced by the Holy Mother Father whatever meandering path they follow. That wherever they go they’ll return, maybe not physically but always in my heart.
We’re still negotiating around how often Lily goes out. Lily does not quite understand that I have other things to do than be outside with her. However the longer she’s here the easier it is. And she’s brought wonderful silliness, laughter and love into our lives.