It seems that Claire and Francis (brother and sister, yes, but saints, no) had been very busy during the night. As I stumbled out the bedroom door to make my way to the kitchen coffee pot, a trail of dead baby blue jays, their barely formed (but surprisingly large!) bodies splayed out before me, made a trail of tears down the hallway. The darling "kitties" had evidently used the back door in our room -- the screen door with the hole that they had carved out for themselves so they wouldn't have to disturb us to let them in and out -- to haul in their victims/loot all night.
What was worse was that "mom" and "dad" blue jay were no strangers. No, they had been like members of the family. We watched them work together as a happy domestic couple to painstakingly create their nest out of little scraps and dried up plants from last year that they scavenged off our deck. We, the cat keepers, watched them make it, we did, right in our rhododendron -- right in front of the dining room picture window where we could admire their nesting business like we were watching a Wild Kingdom episode on t.v. Right where Claire would sit in her kitty scratching post and enjoy the show.
This morning, we knew "mom" and "dad" had lost their poor helpless offspring...and probably watched the whole gory murderous attack without being able to do a thing to stop it. Their poor babies! These babies that were the sum total of so much labor and attentive sitting and responsible feeding and hope for the future....these poor babies who never hurt anything and had no chance to live!
All of that beauty -- murdered! What's more, we, in our failure to at least try to thwart the inevitable by taking apart the nest or keeping the cats indoors or doing something/anything to avoid what I could see now was an inevitable baby bird massacre, were complicit to the crime.
But, no, I had been in denial. I had thought it was "cute."
As I was trying to pull myself together on the couch, Francis swaggered out, licking his lips. He had this "what are you looking like that at me for....I was just the look out" expression, but we were having none of his act. It should have been coffee and petting time, but all we could see was a murderer. I, for one, was going to give no affection to this very bad cat -- in fact, I was imagining taking him and his unsaintly sister to the pound.
Punish the guilty ones!!!
I should probably stop saying "we" as though there were someone here sharing my confused, ego-induced perceptions. It was really just me. Ray, who decided to make himself scarce for a while, thought I had temporarily gone insane. Ray was right.
What's more, I knew I had gone insane, too. A part of me was sitting back watching myself think, feel, act, and speak like a lunatic. I was shocked by the force of the anger and grief and guilt and desire to punish within me.
As I tried to pull myself together on the sun room couch, all I could see out the window -- in what is normally a lovely panoramic view of the best of Pacific Northwest nature -- was murder. Even the cute little hummingbirds were in on the evil, bullying each other and trying to horde the food. Birds elsewhere were murdering worms and bugs, cats were murdering birds, hawks were murdering cats, coyotes were murdering deer, neighbors were murdering deer, deer were murdering our young apple trees, trees were murdering the grass, grass was murdering garden flowers, garden flowers and the "special love" they induced were inviting people to murder the "weeds".....
You get the picture.
Just now I can't really find the words right now to describe how completely horrifying it was to take in that scene in that moment. Just then as I watched myself really getting freaked out -- like the entire world had become one giant Psycho Shower Scene in my mind and there was no way to turn it off and nowhere to hide -- I turned to Jesus in my mind.
Me: What the hell!? HELP!
Me: HELLO????? I said, "HELP!" I'm NOT KIDDING THIS TIME.
Jesus: Nope. Yep.
Me: What is wrong with YOU???? It's like a horror picture down here! Everyone's killing everyone else! Even You said that a freakin' (okay, you didn't say "freakin'" ...actually that was just me) annoyance is just the same as murder. SO????? GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!
Jesus: *sigh* Maybe you need a another cup of coffee. ::smile::
He was right. I did actually need a cup of coffee just then, if only to switch my mind into doing something gentle and helpful. I ground the beans, did some deep breathing while I waited patiently for it to brew, took out the customary two cups, filled Ray's and brought it back to our office as a Peace Offering. He smiled cautiously, looked at me carefully, thanked me for the cup, and stayed right where he was, busy at his desk.
I returned to the couch.
After I sipped my first cup and poured my second, I tried again.
Me: Jesus? You there still?
Jesus: Always. Feel better yet?
Me: Yeah. So what is all this about? Right about now -- boy, do I want the Peace of God. What I really can't figure out is how I could get this upset over something so trivial. Me, after all these years of forgiveness and mind training!
Jesus: Actually, back up there ... you are getting ahead of yourself. Say that first thing again....
Me: You mean the part about how I want the Peace of God?
Jesus: BINGO. Good... let's just rest there for a minute. Sip your cup.
Hmm. Okay, I followed the instruction, although it seemed a bit lacking in "fixi-ness" for lack of a better word. I thought "I want the Peace of God." I felt the words echo through me. I felt how true they were. For Real. I hated the feeling of horror. I wanted more than anything that feeling that all is taken care of, all is safe, all is comfortable, all is accepted, all is blessed, all is welcome. Scratch that -- I wanted to feel those ways about myself! I wanted to feel taken care of, safe, comfortable, accepted, blessed, welcome! Yes, Yes, Yes! That's what I really really want for me, the birds, all the baby whatevers everywhere...everyone!!!
*after a pause*
Jesus: mmmmmmmmmmmm...... doesn't that feel nice? So now that you are clear on what you want, let me tell you a big secret -- I think you are ready for it. In fact, I think you are begging for it. So here it goes:
I let that sink in. The sinking is still happening, as a matter of fact. I can feel that a by-product of the sinking business is a further sloughing away of the the need/desire/inclination/compulsion to judge. It's feeling impossible to hold on to both, as it, in fact, actually is.
Judgement, I'm ready to drop you like a bad habit. Because you are. And you never brought me anything I Want.
Never. Not once.
Why is it I can hear the same things over and over and yet they seem brand new on days like these? It's like before I read them as bumper stickers on the car ahead of me -- they catch my attention, I chuckle or utter a knowing "oh yeah!", I share them a few times, and I think I really have it. But then the car drives on and so do I. We go our different directions and the idea fades.
Or maybe I just shelve it in favor of my own ideas. Yes, that's it, actually. That's honest.
But it never fails that there will come the day when the pain of choosing the wrong teacher has my motivation in Olympic Athlete Condition. I feel the same bumper sticker line -- "out there" on the fender someplace ahead of where I am in this moment --like a tattoo on my heart that couldn't possibly be more present-moment with me, more internal, more permanently etched. Then I know I will never forget.
I can never "find" love in the illusion. I will never find it in the mirror -- the one in the bathroom or the one that is the "world" that reflects back to me.
We don't find love. We Choose it. Then whatever we see shows up as part of the Kingdom of Heaven, as it were. What seems to be anti-Love is only something we put there.
"Great!" we learn to think and really mean when we run into the next thing that scares us, ticks us off, tests our patience, has us comparing ourselves to others or feeling insecure. "That's my next opportunity to remove the barriers that I have put in my mind to God's Love. It has to be that, because there is nothing else Real out there. And I know what I Want."
Back to the kitty saga, a few days later, Claire -- who may have been/who-am-I-kidding-probably-was up the tree hunting more baby birds -- got stuck (for the 5th time, by the way...) in a nice, tall fir tree behind our house. For days and nights she sat up there howling for help. Too high for a ladder, she found her cries only generated episodic spurts of ineffectual "Are you still up there? Come on down, Claire!"'s.
I've been watching my mind since this chapter started. It's secretly wanted to revel at the justice, then has panicked at the thought of death by dehydration (especially on day 4 during the 84-degrees out there).
Back and forth, the mind flops trying to find a solid place to rest. But there's no solid place "out there."
This morning, after 30 minutes of fighting blackberry vines to get close enough to maybe hopefully coax her down (like if only she could see how close I really was and how much I REALLY wanted her down now, she'd put her head below her butt -- a cat's biggest nightmare -- and climb down the right direction), I found myself on the aforementioned couch, sans stuck kitty, sipping the regulatory morning cup of coffee.
I thought about my thoughts about the tree-bound Claire. I did an honest assessment of my judgments and realized I actually thought this was Cat Karma --
A part of me was saying: "Oh you who think you are so immune! Slaughter defenseless bird babies for fun, eh Sinner? Mother Nature will send your biggest nightmare to teach you a lesson -- The Tree and death by dehydration....or worse!"
I noticed the thoughts and then went to my Mind for some help from You-Know-Who. Jesus was quiet for a change.
After coffee, Ray and I read our A Course in Miracles section like we've been doing for a few weeks every morning. Our new method is to take turns opening the book randomly. Today it was my turn. I opened a page that was all about Vigilance.
Nicely played, Jesus.
You can do a search yourself to see how many times Vigilance is discussed by Jesus. It's a theme actually. Basically, He's saying we need to be Vigilant FOR the Kingdom of Heaven and nothing else. That's not a religious idea, even thought it's a religious-sounding phrase. He's telling us we have to constantly -- and He means that literally for a change -- be Choosing Love over everything else we think we might be seeing (with those eyes that can't possibly see looking at a world that isn't there....remember that!)
Ken Wapnick might remind us that instead of "trying" to Choose Love constantly, we can simply notice how often we're NOT Choosing it. Ultimately, it's the same thing, except Ken's twist maybe means we spare ourselves the agony of creating yet another spiritual mask we have to undo. At least that's my take on his take.
So we finished our reading and we closed our eyes like we do to meditate a few minutes. I thought about "Stuck kitty in tree" and "the Kingdom of Heaven." The two ideas seemed contraindicated, because, well, they are. You won't find stuck kitties in Heaven. Or bird murderers. Or sinners of any kind. Or the guilt I feel daily that shows up as insecurity, frustration, anxiousness, excitement. You just don't find those things.
And that's a good thing.
I remembered what I wanted, and I said to myself, "Self, there's no stuck kitties in Heaven, and I want the Peace of God." I knew for a moment Claire's fine, I'm fine...ultimately we aren't even here. We're totally blissed out, loving endlessly in Endless Love. And I can be there now, too. And I was for a while.
A few minutes later, I was at my desk checking work email, and Ray came up behind me. I was not really wanting to be distracted just then, but he persisted in trying to get my attention, so I turned around.
"I thought you might like to say 'hello' to someone. She was climbing up the hill to the door when I went to check on her."
There are no stuck kitties in Heaven.
Or in my mind, which is where Heaven is. And all the Love I Want, too. It's right Here.
What's delicious weirdness is that Claire seems totally confused about why we keep fussing over her. She shows not the least sign of needing recovery time from any "ordeal." She did last time she was stuck this long for sure. It makes the mind boggle... but those are unimportant details about the dream that don't really lead anywhere helpful, I've found.
Instead let's focus here. Every moment is a portal to what you and I always Wanted but were afraid wouldn't Want us back. Or it's what we don't want because it means we don't get to keep our idea that we're separate. Oy.
Either way, when we want It more than the illusory 'it' -- no matter what kind of "problem" our wanting shows up as in the moment - It (the Answer, the Solution, the Love) is Right Here. It's too good to be true almost, yeah?
Yeah, almost -- almost for sure, in fact, if you and I try to find it where it's not.
But exactly True when we Choose it where It Is.