Rowena can hear the voices of the silent. And I listen to hers. A few months ago our one eyed black tomcat, Lewis, was little more than a ragged piece of fur placed loosely over bone. He had been wasting away for weeks; unable to digest his food. At one point he was unable to hold his head up. He leaned his head against the side of water dish to drink. I had come to terms and was ready to take him one last time to the vet. Rowena had spent many hours sitting beside him through his suffering, the way a Christian does, and although she had come to terms with his end as well she said that he was asking her not to give up. He wanted to live. He was trying. Since then Lewis has put on a full cat's weight. He has bad days when the suffering continues. But like all of us he is still trying to live.
One difficulty we had in during his recovery was a sudden desire, on his part, to go outside. After we first took him in, rescuing him from a grizzly death, he shunned the outer world. He run away from an open door to hide in small spaces in his new home. But now he tried to escape every time we let the dogs out. We were afraid he wanted to find a place to be alone to die and we would not let him go. But our faith in his actions has renewed along with his health. This morning he and I went outside together.
We have fenced our entire yard so he is safe. His big tomcat head is too big to fit through the fence and it is too tall for him to jump over at this stage in his return. He walked around the perimeter by the street and our neighbors driveway while I sat on the porch with my coffee, but when he headed for the back yard I decided to go with him just in case there was a place in the sub fence that divides front from back that he could squeeze through. We moved very slowly together past the Hydrangeas and Day Lilies then the Dogwood until we came to the Crepe Myrtle that blossoms over the fence, softening what had once been a sharp edge. Under the Myrtle he sat, crossed his legs neatly under himself in warm dirt of the constant shade.
I swear in the wind I heard "this is the spot" It was not a spot I would have chosen. No place for me to sit. But Lewis has his own point of view about perfection, so I sat my cup down on the fence post and took a good lean against the gate to take in the welcome mutual silence that can only be appreciated with a good friend.
Four young squirrels played in the Pignut Hickories; eight of them tower above the quarter acre expanse within the 6 foot red cedar privacy enclosure behind the house. Each has nurtured and sheltered dozens of generations of grey squirrels. After all their leaves fall their nests can be seen in the highest limbs forty feet above the ground. But on this early September morning the long limbs are a playground and the young are chasing each other with sheer abandon jumping from branch to branch in a race that would claim a mile if on the ground. After sampling each tree's playful possibilities the game moves on to our neighbor's yard and then the next until the hummingbird's drone drowned out the sound of their antics. We have a feeder on the deck and the little birds dive from the shelter of the Huckleberry tree to sip. It seems like there are a dozen of them but perhaps only two busily taking turns. Only after they have their fill do I notice the huge brown spider spinning it's web. It's a Garden Orb Weaver and in the 20 minutes I watched it create a masterpiece 5 feet in diameter. When I was younger, but not much, I held a great antipathy towards spiders and I would have quickly dispatched both web and weaver. But Rowena and Buddhist Monks have convinced me that I can live in peace with them - so I take and the last sip of coffee and consider that one day a spider may have something to tell me; if I can share its silence.
When I turn to look at my feline friend, he winks (could be a blink but since he only has one eye it can be taken either way) as if to acknowledge what we just shared. It's about time for my family to be waking up so I sweep Lewis into my arms. He purrs in heavy draughts as we walk to the front door and the sleepy Sunday morning waiting for us to share with our family.
The world has never asked me to be silent, but it rewards me when I am.