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My Granny was one of my greatest spiritual mentors. It was not until she had a stroke and could no longer walk or talk that many of the words that she had spoken to me over and over throughout my life finally really sunk into me. It was like all of her teaching time was over, and the lessons were finally transferred to me, and I began saying the words back to her….reminding her of her own lessons as she suffered greatly at the end of her life. It was beautiful and sad at the same time.

“I finally get it Granny, and now we cannot talk about it together. You can no longer speak, and I am speaking your words back into you.”

But the good news is that although she is no longer with us I did finally get it, and she has left a legacy of spiritual wisdom here on earth.

Granny had many flaws and issues. She was far from perfect, but she lived a long life of fearless faith. She showed me the power of the Holy Spirit in a surrendered and humble human being. She never made a spectacle of herself when the spirit moved her. It was not for show with her. It was reality.

She taught me far too many things to mention in one short post, but a few small examples come to mind.

She taught me about the power of spoken words to create in our lives through faith or in fear. It is our choice.

She taught me that prayer works.

Everyone used to call her and say, “Will you pray for me about such and such because your prayers work.” She would always firmly tell me, “Your prayers work too! But, yes, I will agree with you in prayer of course.”

I will never forget walking into her bedroom as a little child crying with unbearable pain in my feet…..an odd ailment that tormented me many a night in my childhood. She whisked me upon the bed with Papa and her, grabbed my feet and began praying out loud for healing. She even commanded the devil to leave my feet alone which I thought was very strange even as a child…..but to my astonishment it worked! My feet instantly stopped hurting, and that had never happened before. It was a lesson in faith that bewildered me but that I also never forgot.

I sometimes quietly told myself that she was really an angel in disguise on earth. She had learned over her long life the art of  keeping a gentle tone in her voice when dealing with us kids, and her hair was even snow-white which fit the angel persona in my childhood mind.

Although she was quite the Alpha woman, a leader, a mover and a shaker….she was also gentle and compassionate in her approach…..a delicate balance of power and humility.

Even her death seemed divinely orchestrated. She passed away quietly in her sleep early one Thanksgiving morning when the family was already gathered in from out of town for Thanksgiving Day. And it seems fitting that she would leave us with one last message just by passing on that day…..Be grateful for all of life, but do not fear death for it is also a part of life.

Last year when my family suffered two horrible losses…..the death of a baby and the sudden death of a beloved young uncle…..my mom found a copy of a prayer tucked away in my grandmother’s keepsakes. We read it at our private outdoor memorial. It seemed like Granny’s contribution to us during this difficult time. It must have been a prayer that she kept close to her heart, and it is a prayer that I hope to live by every day. I will close with the prayer:

Keep us O God from pettiness: let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.

     Let us be done with fault finding, and leave off self-seeking. May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face without self-pity and without prejudice.

     May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous.

     Let us take time for all things: make us to grow calm, serene, gentle.

     Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straight forward, and unafraid. Grant that we realize it is the little things that create differences and that in the big things of life we are as one.

     And may we strive to touch and know the great common human heart of us all, and O God, let us forget not to be kind.                                                                                                                                                                 Amen

 

There are certain relationships in life that just seem other worldly or divinely orchestrated. I have definitely experienced some of these with people, but I was seriously amazed when it happened to me with a cat especially since I had never really been a big animal person before.

I was about 20 years old, and I was going through one of the darkest periods of my life. Everything that I had been through as a child just started becoming clearer to me when I moved out on my own, and it seemed as if the world just crashed down on me. None of my old defense mechanisms were working anymore so I turned to more unhealthy and self-destructive ones because I honestly felt like I would not survive otherwise. I was dark, depressed, and self-destructive, and I honestly felt like there was some dark demonic force sitting on my back and trying to take me out. I know that sounds weird, but I really felt it. I would pray frantically, “Oh dear God please make it go away!”…..But it didn’t.

So anyway, out of the clear blue one day I got this weird obsessive thought that I wanted a pure white cat. When I say obsessive I mean I could not shake this desire that came on as suddenly as a heart attack. I just felt this strong pull and longing to get a white kitten IMMEDIATELY!

I looked in the newspaper that day to see if there were any cats for sale or for free, and low and behold there was an add that literally said, “All white kittens for sale.” It was the strangest synchronicity! It was actually bizarre to me that I suddenly got this odd urge then opened the paper to see the fulfillment to my urge right there in print.

I called the number, and the man said he had a litter of all white Persian kittens that I could come see. He lived an hour and a half away, and even though it was already about 8:00pm I asked him if I could come right away. He said, “sure,” so off  I went to spend my rent money on this little being that for some reason all of the forces of God and nature were pulling me towards.

When I arrived there with my boyfriend the man pulled out several cages of fluffy white kittens, and he let them all out for me to see. All of the kittens were showing off, jumping around, playing, and prancing like they were all competing for my attention. But there was one little guy that just ran like a fraidy cat back into his cage and hid all by himself in the corner staring at me with desperately frightened eyes that said, “Please get me out of here.”

He was also the only one that had a little silver patch on the crown of his head. When our eyes met and locked I knew that he was the one that I had come for, and the breeder acted surprised that I wanted the shy kitten, but I had no doubts at all that he was the one. There was some strange other worldly recognition that I had with his old deep looking eyes.

So I held him close to my heart all the way home comforting his fear with soft loving words, and we were instantly bonded. Over the years our love only grew and grew. He was affectionate with me. He hugged me, kissed me, slept on me, and there was nothing that he could ever do that would make me give him up.

He was almost like a dog with me. He came when I called. He stayed close by. He sensed when I was upset and was right there to comfort me. He loved me even when he witnessed me doing bad things, and I always felt guilty when he would stare at me as I was hurting myself in some way, and I would always hug him and apologize.

Other people marveled at the strange connection that I had with Casper, my kitty. I would let him out to play, and without even realizing it I would get up in the middle of a conversation with friends and open the front door, and he would run inside. When my friends’ jaws dropped I said, “What?”

They said, “How did you know he was at the door? He never even made a sound?”

I just shrugged. Casper and I always knew what each other needed. We had no problem communicating without words, and I had never experienced this kind of connection before with an animal.  Apparently it was unique even to see because others often commented on the strangeness yet the sweetness of it.

There was a period of time when I was in college far away from my home town that I was basically homeless….well I was homeless. I had everything that I owned in my tiny two seat car, and I had a pager so that people could get in touch with me. They would page, and I would call them from a pay phone. It was a crazy unstable time, but Casper was with me. I had him along with his litter box in my car with me. Where ever I was… he was home no matter how much we bounced around from place to place…we were together.

He was the love of my life honestly. We were soul mates. My boyfriends would even get jealous! I know it sounds insane, and I honestly never would have imagined having this kind of bond with a cat, but it just happened. He was my angel really. He came into my life when I became an adult and needed an angel more than ever, and he stayed with me during 14 of my wildest and most roller coaster-ish years.

I truly believe that he was heaven-sent. He even looked angelic with his pure white fur that was softer than a cloud, his tiny pink nose and mouth, and his big deep golden eyes that looked so loving and wise.

As Casper and I grew older I began longing for a child, and every now and then this horrible thought would pop into my head that said, “You are going to have to let go of Casper before you will be able to have a baby.” I would quickly push that thought away saying to myself that it was just a fear and not true, but deep down I felt it was honestly that deep inner knowing that comes to me sometimes that is true. I just did not want to believe it.

I tried to conceive unsuccessfully for 8 difficult years, and Casper remained faithfully by my side through it all.

Then one Saturday morning in January Casper came and jumped on me while I was sleeping late. He wanted me, but I pushed him away so that I could sleep longer. He calmly went off and allowed me to sleep. Then when I woke up and got my coffee I went and got back in my bed to relax and watch a movie. Casper then came back, and jumped into my lap.

He sat with me snuggling and purring loudly for a while as I pet him and gave him the love that he had been craving earlier. Then all of a sudden, as quickly as a heart attack, Casper gasped a few times and died in my lap.

It all happened so fast and so unexpectedly, but I knew instantly as it began happening that he was leaving me forever. I could almost see his spirit leaving his body in some strange way. I immediately burst into hard sobs, and started saying, “It’s okay….it’s okay” through my tears because I just knew as I always had with Casper that this was all in divine order even as difficult as it was.

My husband and I placed him in his new bed that we had just purchased for him. We took him to my grandparent’s house into a beautiful wooded area and covered his body with flowers before putting him in the ground. I decorated his grave site with tons of pink dewy flower petals that just happened to be all over the ground already, and I said a prayer thanking God for my angel and asking God to enjoy him in heaven as I had here.

This was one of the most difficult losses of life that I had ever experienced. I sobbed for weeks, and I still cry sometimes years later, but I also had peace about it because something in me knew that it was all just as it should be. Casper knew that he was leaving me that day, and he waited for me to wake up so that he could  say goodbye and so that he could be with me at his passing.

Little did I know, until later, that Casper died literally two days after I conceived my daughter. It was as if they passed each other in the ethers. He left as she came…. One great love for another. I don’t know why, but it still somehow makes sense.

I do not know if I will ever experience something like that with another pet. It is not something that can be forced. I tried. I tried to get another cat later, but it just did not work out even nearly the same.

Casper’s and my relationship was divine. He taught me more about unconditional love than I ever could have imagined. He was my angel in disguise, and I will look for him to greet me when my time in this world is up. Until then he remains with me in my heart and sometimes meets me in my dreams.

Digging through the dirt of life to find the freedom to fly seems to be my life’s theme so far, and so it is also the theme for this blog. This blog is my way of navigating through my past and present experiences and thoughts in order to get to a better future.

The name “Grounded Angel” represents two ideas. One is the idea of a being who is meant to fly and soar freely but who has actually been lassoed to the ground and kept there by the pain and heaviness of life. This “grounded Angel” is broken and longs to regain the use of her wings.

The second idea is of a being who is flying and soaring freely as an angel would but who is also grounded in a healthy way to the reality of life. This “grounded angel” is not flittering around in a spacey disconnected way, but is flying freely while still held securely to the earth. This “grounded angel” is whole and connected both to heaven and to earth.

My long journey is taking me from the first to the latter. I do not know if and when this journey will end, but there is a wide range of joy, sorrow, tension, release, triumph, and failure as I travel across the finite portion of the vast terrain of time and space that is my life.

I wrote a poem entitled “Grounded Angel” a while back as I struggled with the tension of this journey. The poem came from a place of struggle. It came from a darker place because it came from the place where things that I have kept pushed down all of my life were beginning to give in to an inner pressure. They were needing to be released, and I didn’t know how to do that so the poem bubbled out.  Here it is:

What’s the pain that lurks beneath the surface trying to get out?
Building up continuously until it starts to bleed and seep
Overflowing from the heart into the body, Now it’s an ache.
Tears welling up then pulling back, rarely allowed to weep

Grounded angel, broken wings, needing to be free
Release me from this cage so that I can be me.

What are all these hidden secrets? What have I blocked out?
Why did I allow the fear to bury it so deep?
How can I dig up this pain and get it out of me?
How did I go from flying high to falling fast asleep?

Grounded angel, broken wings, needing to be free
Release me from this cage so that I can be me.

My hope is that by sharing my stories and becoming a little vulnerable I will be able to connect with those people that can relate, and  we will all find comfort in the reality that we are not alone in this. At the core of the human heart we are all connected. We are all in this life together. Deep inside we all share the same longing to let go of the heavy burdens that have been placed upon us and to fly freely. Thanks for joining me on this terrifying yet marvelous journey called life. 🙂


Thank you Thursday Poets Rally for the The Puuuurfact Poets Award!

Haiku by me (Grounded Angel/Jessica)

Poems bubble out

They come from deep within me

Not thoughts but heart songs

 

(I nominate jake.ox)