ckocher: (Default)
Standing on the bridge that crosses
The river that goes out to the sea
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me.

         - Loreena McKennitt, “All Souls Night”


Cornbread crumbled into a glass of milk, a Camel cigarette sitting in the ashtray next to it. Homemade hush puppies fried with catfish, a glass of iced tea on the table. A cup of coffee, the jade sugar bowl carefully washed and filled. My family has gathered once again for supper but there is only silence where voices were once heard. My mind is on times past, of physical touch that no longer exists, of long-distance conversations that have ceased. I allow myself to grieve, to wish for the 'one more time' that inevitably is stolen from us all. But I celebrate too, knowing that their journey is not over, that the cycle continues. I smile as I remember fragments of time, never knowing what memories will surface but delighting in them all.

This is my ritual, this is how I honor the beloved dead.

I think of those ancestors I never knew. I think of my great-grandmother – all I have is a picture of her in a hospital bed, holding a baby in her arms. That was me, just a few days before she died. I feel her with me tonight, our souls reaching out to touch each other in greeting. I look at photographs of other ancestors that are gone from this world and think of their lives, the living and dying that led to my own existence.

This is my ritual, this is how I honor the unknown dead.

I think beyond those dead of my family line and feel the weight of other spirits settle around me. These are strangers to me, at least in this lifetime. I honor their presence as they dance through this sacred space, spirits whose names and faces are lost to the world. On this night, all are welcome to my small fire and all have a place at my table.

This is my ritual, this is how I honor the forgotten dead.

I know that where they are now, I too will be. Those I love will cross that veil one by one, and the tears of that someday grief mark my skin even now. But until that time comes, until the cycle renews, I have those suppers and conversation. I can look into their eyes, touch their skin, hear their voices and laughter twined with mine. I honor those moments, and I renew my pledge to drink the beauty of the living in as deeply as I can every single day.

This is my ritual, this is how I honor the future dead.

Blessed Samhain.


*** This is my Week 6 entry in [info]therealljidol. This week's topic was "Ghosts." I would love to hear what you thought about it, and would appreciate your vote when the time comes. Thanks for reading! ***
ckocher: (joy)
I've been feeling a bit... hopeless about the world lately and was reading through some of my archives looking for a poem that I remembered being an echo of my feelings. Instead, I came across this, a post I wrote back in 2004. I had completely forgotten about this day and as I read it, I found my spirits lifting.

This is why I have this journal. As much as I enjoy having other people read what I write and as much as I love sharing in the lives of other people, I do this so that I remember those days, so that I can look back and connect once again with those memories and emotions.

I don't know what happened to the cat I met that day. But I have enough hope in me again to think that whatever has happened, it's okay. And you know what? That's all I need.

*****

I stopped at the eye doctor's office today to pick up my new glasses. As I was leaving, a very sweet cat came up to me and started being extremely friendly. He rubbed against my legs, laid down on my shoes and was simply one of the sweetest cats I've ever met.

It was also quite obvious he was a stray. His nose had several scars and fresh scratches from fights, and his cream and white coat was filthy. He was also on the lean side, although his coat was fairly soft and his eyes bright and inquisitive. I wish I had some kind of food – even if it was just a granola bar – to give him but the only thing I had with me was some gum.

He was also a full male, which means that he's probably out creating more homeless kitties that will face rather harsh lives and, unless they are very lucky, grow up feral and die at an early age.

I don't have many buttons that you can push to really make me angry, but neglected animals are one of the biggest. I simply cannot understand why people with pets - even those with very low incomes - won't get their pet neutered in order to prevent more homeless animals from wandering the streets. It's fairly inexpensive and even for those with low-incomes, you can find shelters and vets who will work with you and offer extremely discounted rates. There's simply no excuse for it, and I come very close to physical violence when I hear someone say "Oh, but I wanted her to have the experience of being a mom!" These are the same people who then complain non-stop when they can't find homes for that litter of kittens.

But back to the parking lot... the cat was still being very sweet and had I not already had four cats at home, I would have taken him home with me and started the process of getting him to the vet and integrated into my house. As it was, I had a long debate with myself about whether to leave him or to take him to the shelter so  they could take him in. I opened the car door and he jumped right in and explored. Eventually he lay down on my hoodie that was lying in the front seat. I was very torn and already in love with this guy. I even thought about taking him back to my area of town and turning him loose. There’s a lot less traffic there and lots of forest area for him to hunt in. And, of course, I’d leave him food out on the front step. Maybe he could be my outdoor cat. I could cut a hole in the garage door so he could sleep in there. There had to be something I could do, right?

I finally had a chat with him and told him that he was going to have to help me and let me know what he wanted me to do. I really didn’t want to take him to the shelter; they’re great people there but no cat is happy in a building with 400 other cats. Turning him loose wasn't a good idea either - too many coyotes in the woods behind my house that would love the free meal. But I was very worried about just leaving him there, since he was only 20 feet away from the busiest street in town.

I got in the car with him and left the door open. (For those of you who have never tried this, getting into an enclosed space with a strange cat who is fully clawed can be a slightly dangerous experience.) He seemed fine and after a while I closed the door. He promptly crawled over on my chest and lay down, looking out the window and purring. I opened the door again but he made no move to get out.

He wandered around a bit more in the car and I finally closed the door again. Then I put the keys in the ignition and started the car. He wanted out. I opened the door and he hopped out, walked away a few feet and looked back at me. His tail waved once, like a farewell wave to an old friend, and then he was off. Saddened and in tears, I closed the door, put on my seat belt and put the car in reverse. I wanted nothing more than to save him but I just didn't know how to do that.

Before I put the car in reverse, I looked in the rearview mirror. There he was, standing right next to a nun.  A nun in full habit, which is a rare sight these days. She bent down and stroked his head, then straightened, looked right at me and smiled before turning to walk away, the cat right at her side, tail up in the air and looking up at her with complete trust. They turned the corner and just disappeared.

Now, perhaps I’ve just seen one too many episodes of Joan of Arcadia, but I think I’ll take that as a sign that God will take care of everything.  I felt a little better as I pulled out of the parking lot and headed home to my own herd of cats.

I do think that I’ll start keeping a couple of cans of food in the glove compartment though in case I meet up with another friendly cat who might want a snack. Just in case God is busy that day.


*** This is my Week 5 entry in [info]therealljidol. This week's topic was open. I went through several drafts of different ideas but in the end, this is what felt right to me. I will post a link to the poll when it is up. If you liked it, please vote for my entry to keep me in the game. Tell your friends. Tell your frenemies. Stop strangers in the street and tell them too. There might be chocolate unicorns and butterflies sent your way in return.Thanks for reading! ***

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December 2012

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