Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MIRACLE CATS, SOUL MATES, AND CHOCOLATE BROWNIES


Confession: I’m not a fan of dogs. There, I've said it. As a recovering people pleaser, I practiced authenticity by giving up pretending to like dogs on social media for Lent. As ridiculous as that sounds, it brought me to this level where I can share that I’m an empath and, you know, a decent human being. As such, I totally get that you love your dogs as much as I love my cats. So, if you’re my social media friend and I “like” your dog photo, what I’m really liking is the love I see between you and your pet. Just so you know, just so we’re clear.

So, Seven, our 17-year-old, hyperthyroid cat with Irritable Bowel Disease died in the middle of Holy Week. This is spiritual post about the miracles and grace I received through my beloved pet as she overcame three separate life-threatening medical emergencies over the course of 2 ½ years and then passed peacefully away. But first, I want to share some tidbits about her veterinary care and our family.

Because so many of our Facebook friends were praying for her, Seven was blessed with cutting-edge veterinary care. Her treatments were not invasive, nor uncomfortable. Most of her medicines were applied topically to the skin of her inner ears. An easy-to-digest prescription canned food appeared on the market only months before her diagnosis. All the techs and vets we spoke with recognized Seven’s strength of heart and understood our goal to keep her healthy and comfortably with us as long as possible. They were also practical and repeatedly clear about how we would know when it was time to, you know.

Except one. Once when I called to discuss a change in Seven’s prescription, the partner vet got on the phone, read up on Seven’s treatment plan, and explained some medical stuff to me. Then he said, “Bottom line, if you micro-manage a lifeform’s health to the level you are doing with this cat, you can keep anything alive forever.”

Okay. Well. Not true. And, I understand you currently have an overloaded “dime-a-dozen” kitten room, so you don’t quite get why we’re going through all this. However, was that really a necessary comment?

Seven’s meds and food did cost a lot of money. But, all members of our family were on the same page here -- she was worth it.

Which brings me to my daughter who was 9 months old when we adopted Seven and her brother, Nelix, after I read a scrawled sign posted on the hairstylist’s shop door, “Marmalade kitten and gray sibling need home.”

I said aloud, “Those are our cats.” I just knew.

We have so many photos of Seven and Nelix in the thick of play with children. And cuddles galore. Thirteen years’ worth with Nelix and Seventeen with Seven. Definitely, a fair share of trouble as with any pet, but oh so much love. My daughter loved these cats as her own siblings/teddy bears/best friends. And when they died, it was as unbearable as you can imagine it would be for her. Nevertheless, she got through it each time, and I thank you for your prayers.

So, you can see what I’m not saying here, right? You can see why we would invest so much into this sweetie, right? After Seven’s last miraculous recovery in February, when we brought her in so the vets and techs could verify for us that she was indeed better, everyone was as excited about her recovery as we were. And the partner vet? He started telling random clients about the miracle cat they had in their care. And after, he wrote in their group sympathy card, “. . . She was so loved.”



Just so you know, just so we're clear. 

. . . . . 

Are you as relieved as I am that I was authentic without dropping the F-bomb?!

Speaking of authenticity, I have another confession. I’m struggling with being an authentically spiritual person.

I’ve accepted that by following my own saintly recipes for spiritual living and climbing those boulders along my path, I’ve become progressively more spiritual. I’ve accepted this and am ever so grateful, but I’m not used to it. And so, I struggle.

Recently, I was called on to share about myself in a church group and I said, “I’m pretty sure I’m an Earth Angel (empath) gifted with claircognizance (clear thinking/intuition).”

*crickets*

Another time, I was in a church group and someone shared that after all their years of study, they’ve concluded that the whole crucifixion and resurrection thing is a metaphor and never actually happened. And someone responded, “You know, I believe that, too. Let’s have some more wine and discuss it further.”

This type of thing makes me “run screaming” back home to my cats and social media where I find a photo of someone’s trip to Jerusalem taken in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre showing people praying near Golgotha, the site of Jesus’s Crucifixion.

Or another’s photo on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where the Risen Christ cooked and shared breakfast, forgave Peter, and asked him to feed his sheep.

And I go, ahhhhhh. Much better.

And then there’s Doreen Virtue, angel guide and author with multiple psychology degrees and years of experience. With Doreen’s guidance, I have tuned in to the same divine wavelength she’s receiving along with millions of other people, world-wide. Her daily oracle card readings and weekly video usually speak directly, not metaphorically, directly to what I’m experiencing at the time.

And yet, since discovering her when I researched for St. Michael and All Angels in 2013, there was a big something that caused me unease. She believed and taught that Jesus was an ascended master along with Archangel Michael, St. Francis, and Gandhi among others.

And I’m like, uh no. So, I’ve held myself back.

Something shifted in January of this year. She posted several videos about a life-altering vision she had of Jesus, one of herself being Baptized, and a couple promoting the “Anglican/Episcopalian” Church to which she and her husband now belong!

Yay! She’s a newbie!

Last month, Doreen recorded a different type of video -- no wicker chair, no flowing dress, no deck of cards. Instead, she wore jeans, a tee-shirt, no makeup, and sat on the ground in a field. She carefully explained that she had been wrong about Jesus being an ascended master. She understands now that Jesus Christ is God, the one and only. And she will be pulling her ascended masters books and oracle cards from bookstore shelves so she can rewrite them.

I mean! Wow.

I’m now all-the-way tuned in to Doreen Virtue’s guidance, and I’ve learned how to do my own Archangel Michael oracle card readings which I’m finding exceedingly helpful in all areas of my life.

But back to being my authentic self with groups of people. My pragmatic son often advises me to make friends outside of church as there’s only trouble to be found in having all your friends in one church basket. He’s right, of course. But, something kept drawing me to Church.

(And when I say Church, I mean the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, which includes all of them because I have faith and hope for the future that we may all be one.)

You see, I was searching for my new Calling. The one I needed now that I’m soon to be retired from my career as Full-Time Mom when my youngest leaves for college. I believed I would find it at Church. I believed I would be called by a person at Church who’d say, “Hey, I think you’d make a good deacon.”

Or, “You’re perfectly suited for youth ministry and we could use you on our team.”

Or, “We really need you to write your book for us.”

Okay, not so much anymore with the deacon thing because when I imagine myself wearing a clerical collar, I feel like I’m being choked. And the idea that after 20 years of volunteering in churches, I would continue to formally provide my time and efforts for free makes me tired.

And the book thing. Really, ack, publishing. It’s the nature of the beast.

The youth ministry thing, though. That one hurt. I would have liked the opportunity to make mistakes I could learn from, practice, improve, and grow into the role. But after three years of  trying to serve on the cusp while not being included, accepted, nor supported by the center, I’m exhausted. And, I’m done.

But the youth were worth it. They saw through my social anxiety (approval seeking/people pleasing addictions) to my authentic core. They seemed to understand me on a deeper level than I understood myself, and they loved me. I mean, they still do and all, but we’re friends now, on social media and in real life. I was all overly apologetic, and they were all, “You’re good.” I mean, mmmmmmm.

Doreen recently did a talk about how we should stop trying to fit into groups that don’t accept us. We should stand back to let our soul mates be attracted to us and seek us out because they want to spend time with us. She used the word “mates” as the Australians do, to mean “friends.”

I really like this concept. I have some people I can call soul friends as they read my writing, share their own deep thoughts, and hang out with me either on social media because they live far away, or in real life. I love these people, and I so appreciate their presence in my life. Sometimes, these people deliver divine messages to me. Sometimes, these people are not so much people, but cats.

Seven served a divine purpose in my life. In other words, her extended miraculous life helped me receive a long list of angelic and saintly messages, and her death, well, we’ll get to that.

Seven’s first medical emergency happened right around the time I began my spiritual journey when I felt so rejected, lost, confused, and afraid. Taking care of her was something I could focus on, something physical and mental I could do while I was so frustrated about not being able to forget about what happened to me no matter how hard I tried via sheer will to “just let it go.”

Over the last two and a half years, as her health ebbed and flowed, she hung out with me and demanded my attention. Her needs forced me to suffer through withdrawal symptoms of not going out every day to volunteer or socialize with some group or another so I could please them and earn their approval.

Slowly, but surely, it worked! I discovered I much prefer spending time at home -- reading, writing, praying, contemplating, cooking, baking, and social mediaing with my soul friends. Or hanging out with one or two at a time in real life.

I describe Seven’s last miraculous recovery in my Our Lady and the Blesseds of Fatima post which occurred while I was researching for it in early February. My research, among other things, convinced me to commit to praying the Rosary every day during Lent.

Because I dramatically increased my devotion to her, Mother Mary sent me gifts -- memories from childhood seen from a different perspective, spiritual insights, and assignments. See LOVE WARRIOR and PILGRIMAGE, if you haven’t already.

This was not an easy passage for me to travel through. So, I spent a lot of time sitting around with Seven doing laying-on-of-hands healing prayer (Reiki) for her and contemplating. She was such a sweetie, still a demand for attention, as in I couldn’t be gone from the house for more than two hours, but I didn’t mind.

I see now that she had become a “transition child” I needed to occupy myself with as I began adapting to the soon-to-be empty nest and a life in recovery.

On Palm Sunday, Seven lost her appetite and despite our best at-home efforts, she let us know on Holy Wednesday she was ready for us to take care of her one last time.

I spent from Wednesday to Friday somewhat in shock and focused on work and caring for my daughter. Then on Holy Saturday, I felt okay. I felt hopeful. I devoted myself to baking two batches of Communion Bread. I truly believed I had grieved enough for this cat and that on Sunday morning I would be filled with Easter joy.

And then I woke up on Sunday morning filled instead with a deep sadness and disappointment in myself. I cried three times before church. Then I cried there when two soul friends sat with me and gave space to my sadness and spoke about how they too had Easter-time losses, so they got me.

It pleased me to see my plentiful loaves of bread being consecrated and shared among so many regulars and visitors. I received Holy Communion. And still, no joy.

I was so embarrassed by my tears for a cat on Easter Sunday, I went to the lady’s room to hide.

As I wept, I prayed, “I’m sorry, Lord. I know she was just a cat.”  

He answered me, “Yeah, but she was yours.”

My dejected tears turned joyful with relief because He understood me. He called me close to Him, encouraged me, and listened.

I was so overwhelmed by His words, I cried most of the rest of the day.
..........

I told this story to a soul friend. When I got to the end and am crying as I relive it, she starts asking me questions:

“So that message you received in the Ladies Room at church, how did you receive it? Was it a coin on the floor, or something someone left near the sink, or a song playing over the loudspeaker? Did a butterfly land on a window? Did you see a cardinal outside?”

“No. I heard it in my head. The words just came to me.”

“Oh. Who’s “he?” Was it St. Francis, or St. Anthony, or St. Joseph?”

“No.”

“Was it Archangel Michael?”

“No.”

“Well, then . . .”

“It was Jesus.”

“Uh huh. And when did you hear His voice?”

“Shortly after receiving the Eucharist.”

“So, He had been made know to you . . .”

“In the breaking of the bread. Oh. My. God. It’s Jesus. He’s the Mate of my Soul.”

“This is what I’m saying.”

. . . . . . .

Confession: The above conversation happened between me and me (because I finally understand I’m a pretty cool person to hang out with) after two weeks’ worth of sitting around with my backup cat (whom, thankfully, has upped her game) and a pile of National Geographic magazines, upon reading a timely Gospel passage and homily.

Sometimes, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. But, you know, this is an unbelievably overwhelming new reality for me. I cannot describe my feelings literally or metaphorically. I’m not used to this intense level of Divine Love.

On top of all that, a soul friend told me he had reached a deeper connection to Jesus through my writing.

Wait. What? Who me? The slow on the uptake one? The one who knew Jesus was in her heart, but couldn’t hear Him speaking? The one who could only decipher messages sent by Him delivered via signs from Mother Mary, the Saints, and Angels because of all the boulders on the path between us? My writing?

In a word, yes.

Again, my mind is boggled.

I can’t . . . I don’t know how . . . It’s too much.

I need time.

Time to be with my Lord through His Word.

Time to retreat, travel, contemplate, and adapt.

Time to read books, mountain trails, social media, photographs, magazines, shorelines, expressions, horizons . . .

Time to reread my own writings from a new perspective and think, how did I come up with that? Oh right. I had help.

I remember this happened last year when I reread my St. Anthony from 2012. I was amazed at how well I wrote when I was still so spiritually clueless. I realize now the cluelessness was not lack of intelligence, it was addiction. That addiction had to get all up in my face and block my view of the road, until I finally had no choice but to deal with it. And so, I dealt with it.

In his SUNDAY SERMONS, St. Anthony preached about the sweetness of Jesus: 

The fruit of the bee is the Son of the Virgin. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Luke 1.42), it says; and Canticles 2: His fruit was sweet to my palate (Cant. 2.3). This fruit is sweet in its beginning, middle and end. It was sweet in the womb, sweet in the crib, sweet in the temple, sweet in Egypt, sweet in his Baptism, sweet in the desert, sweet in the word, sweet in miracles, sweet on the ass, sweet in the scourging, sweet on the Cross, sweet in the tomb, sweet in hell, and sweet in heaven. O sweet Jesus, what is more sweet than you are?

Maybe I enjoy baking sweets so much because when I share them, I’m mystically sharing the sweetness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It’s okay if you don’t see it that way. But for me, it’s a baby step in the right direction.

And so, let’s bake:

Chocolate Brownies

Use a metal, not glass, pan. Or, else!

Ingredients

¾ cup baking cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted separately
½ boiling water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place sheet of parchment paper into 13 x 9 metal baking pan. (Avoid glass pans as they cause uneven baking.)
 2. Combine cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl.
 3. Blend in first 1/3 cup butter.
 4. Add boiling water and stir until blended.
 5. Stir in sugars.
 6. Beat eggs, vanilla, and second cup of butter together. Stir into mixture.
 7. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl. Stir into mixture.
 8. Stir in chocolate chips.
 9. Pour batter into pan.
10. Bake 35-45 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick in the center. If it comes out with only a few crumbs on it, they’re done.
11. Cool in pan on wire rack for one hour.
12. Carefully lift out of pan by the edges of the parchment paper. Place onto cutting board and slice into 36 pieces.

1 comment:

Rebecca Petruck said...

I'm so sorry for you loss. This is a beautiful tribute to Seven, and proof he truly was a miracle and a gift from God for you. As in, God PERSONALLY made sure you found each other for this journey. Sending you love. <3