Everything I need is right here, right now

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.”
Wendell Berry


I came home on Wednesday afternoon to find our cat, Noah, barely moving. Noah is a very old cat, and we’ve been getting the feeling lately that he was at the end of his life. After I washed him up, isolated him in the bathroom with a warm bed, litter box, water and cleaned up the considerable mess (he had been incontinent on the couch, happily I’d put a heavy quilt over it the day before) in the living room, I called the vet. When I made his appointment I thought it would probably be to put him down. The appointment was for yesterday at 10 a.m.

Before I went to bed, I checked on him and he seemed very peaceful. I prayed that he would pass away quietly at home. As I tried to go to sleep, my mind kept running scenarios about what I should do for him. How can I help him pass in the most gentle way? Should I try to find a vet who could come to the house? Should I even take him in for his appointment (Noah, like most cats, hates going to the vet). Do I really want his final hour to be spent so unpleasantly? After about a half hour of this thinking, I realized the problem: It wasn’t what to do with Noah, it was what to do with my mind that was not resting in bed at 10 p.m, letting go of the day, but was off in the next day trying to figure out what to do tomorrow. Hopeless.

The next thought was, “You will know what to do tomorrow” and this thought filled me with peace. When I woke up in the night and felt those worried thoughts try to come back I noticed this but instead of running with them I meditated on the thought that Noah was also a part of this vast “Oneness” which knows what to do at all times and which always guides, directs, and points the way. I kept thinking about how interconnected we all are. I kept thinking about the concept of Grace, which is always present in the moment.

I notice that when I try to get out ahead of “a problem” and figure it out, I feel lost… because I am. I’m lost in a mind that believes there is something to be afraid of as it conjures up unhappy scenes, one after the other, each looking more dire than the previous scenario. I am afraid that something in my life will get out of control if I don’t control it (which I also realize I am powerless to do so I feel even more desperate). When I’m letting my mind run wild like this, I am lost in fear and in that low place, everything looks bad.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I quietly stepped into the bathroom to find Noah looking up at me like, “What? Are you going to let me out of this bathroom now?” All of my thoughts about how to help him pass, blah, blah…he wasn’t ready to go, but I didn’t know that until I needed to.

When I need to know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, I will have access to that information. How? I don’t know. How is it possible that at some level, I have access to infinite intelligence and guidance? I don’t know. How can I possibly be connected to all of life (and that includes every being that has ever been or will ever be)? I don’t know. But I believe this and I know this to be Truth. I don’t know how I know this, but I do, and when I remember it, it brings me unspeakable peace. I also know that this is true for everyone whether they belive it or not.

Bodhi and Noah
Bodhi and Noah snuggled up on this chilly morning


29 thoughts on “Everything I need is right here, right now”

  1. I can tell that there are many things that are meaningful for me in this post (did a cursory read), but no time this morning to write (I’m off to play Pickleball which is my new very fun activity.). But I did want to share something that I read yesterday that I found very touching. I know that there are many cat lovers that read this blog – so I thought I’d share this post and the comments to her post and photos from the author Rachel Naomi Remen http://www.rachelremen.com/last-cat/

    I can’t wait to come home later to read the comments to Mary’s post. For me, I can tell it is one of those “keepers” and has lots to munch on/digest.

    See you all later…………

  2. I had to pull out my worn copy last weekend of Pema Chodrons “When things fall apart”….i was just trying to figure out life situations all over the place and came to a place of fear….retirement in 8 months….a boss who’s actions i needed to let go of…your words just soothe me….and a big reminder that the rest of the world also has their own awareness and place in things…i am going to go enjoy my weekend and my 3yr old grandson….blessing ever Mary!!!!!

  3. A question for Mary — in your post you use the word “Grace.” Would appreciate knowing what you mean by the term.

    “I kept thinking about how interconnected we all are. I kept thinking about the concept of Grace, which is always present in the moment.”

    1. For me the concept of Grace means that everything I need (the right ideas, opportunities, clarity, thoughts, direction, how to respond to someone, material things, money…anything and everything) is here for me in the moment that I need it, but not ahead of time (or too late). When I try to figure out what I am going to do about something I’m seeing as a problem, but the time for a decision is not here, I am not in the field of Grace but in a future fear so I feel alone. When I need to make a decision, when the time is right, I am in that expansive field and so is the answer/thing I need.
      For example, when I called the vet for Noah (believing that I would be putting him down most probably) I also prayed “The Roadblock Prayer” which is simply, “If this is not in the highest and best good, I give you (the larger field of my Self, Grace, God) permission to roadblock it”. This has helped me, beyond measure, to get my little, worried, mind off the issue and is a way of turning it over to that field which I am a part of and which is Infinite Wisdom/Grace/Love.

  4. Being a dog rescue person( i have 4 at the moment) i have often had to put them down. I can tell when the time is when I see the misery in their eyes. You will know, Mary.

  5. Wonderful photo, and I’m glad that Noah has more time with you. The timing of your post is perfect for me. I had one of those nights last night, after training yesterday for a volunteer job that left me feeling inadequate and creating scenarios where I would fail. Coincidentally (or not), it’s in animal rescue. I know now that I need to move forward and DO, not stop and ruminate, and that will show me the way. As always, thanks so much, Mary.

  6. Dear Mary, this post touches my very soul. I have been faced with making some major-life decisions regarding my horse Remington as well as my own health and future. Your words of wisdom about trusting a divine ‘knowing’ and remembering that answers always come when they need to gives me solace and peace. Thank you for your gentle spirit and your trust in a higher source. My loving thoughts are with you and Noah….and your entire family. Much love.

  7. “I don’t know how I know this, but I do”, that so resonated with me, Mary. So much of what we feel deeply can’t be expressed in words, and there are no words to convince another person when we enter this mysterious realm of faith. Ultimately it is a choice and can often feel like taking a dive off of a steep cliff, but still, – we are tethered eternally to something so much bigger, so much wiser, and that power, whatever you want to call it, will not let us go. I think of it as the heavenly umbilical cord which unlike our physical one, severed at birth from our mother, – this other one cannot be severed. Blessings to all, and Mary, enjoy every day with Noah and all of your other beloved animals. You will know.

  8. Mary, This, to me, was your most meaningful post. I deeply connected in its entirety. I’ve been there many times as I’ve had kitties since childhood. Most of them have lived to be 18-20 years old. I like to think this is more than a coincidence. I enjoy all of your comments as we seem to look at life in a like manner,
    and this makes me feel sane. Thank you, thank you.

  9. Seems I’ve nothing to add here except thank you Mary; so settling. Our animals have much to teach us.

  10. Mary,I’m so glad Noah feels better and you discovered a place of peace within, during a troubling time. Bless!!

  11. Oh my, i have just recently been through a very similar experience with my 16 yr old cat, Ben. I awoke to find him collapsed and unable to walk or stand. His limbs were cold and I was sure death was near. He did not seem agitated or in pain. I spoke with my vet and decided to let him die at home if he did not begin to show signs of suffering or distress. My vet leans towards euthanasia so I turned to an animal hospice where I received some guidance and kind words. I started a vigil with music and candles and talking with him about what a wonderful addition to our home he was. However, as the days went by, I became very conflicted and was not able to settle on one decision. 4 days after he collapsed Ben hopped off his bed and in a very unsteady walk moved to his favorite spot on our patio (in the AZ sunshine). The next day he was down again, so I made an appointment for euthanasia the next day. In the middle of the night I awoke to Ben sitting up and staring very intensely at me. I got the message that he was not ready. At that point it was not his suffering I would be ending, but rather mine. I cancelled the appointment and while he remains unsteady and somewhat weak, he eats, is able to do his business as usual and seems content. We spend time each evening with him cradled on my chest and a blanket keeping us warm. Something he would never have allowed before. I think of this time as our golden moment, together as our ordinary life goes on. I am so grateful and pay closer attention. I have had to euthanize 1 dog and 3 cats with varying degrees of resolve and peace associated with it. It remains the hardest thing I have ever done and I cannot say with certainty that I knew for sure or they let me know. That’s why this experience with Ben has been so precious, yet one we are still in the midst of. The euthanasia question is not settled for me, I wish I had the confidence you do with the expectation that I will just know. What I do know is that a reliance on this animal love that Ben and I share will be what guides me if I let it. And, most importantly, as you so beautifully put it, the Oneness. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and art work.

  12. I really love this post Mary. When I feel that ugly fear beginning to rise in me, and my heart is pumping so fast, and my thoughts jump from one blurry fearful scenario to another, I really know in that instant how out of balance I am…how detached I am from Source…and sometimes I can turn it around and other times I live there for awhile. When I can stand firmly in Oneness, even for a second, long enough for me to recognize I can choose to be unafraid, to trust in divine guidance, I understand the peace you are talking about. Even writing the words you/we associate with fear…lost, powerless, desperate, worry causes me to feel a spike in my adrenalin…until, for just a second, I can focus on peace, Grace, belief, trust, Truth…and reconnect with One again and feel that tightness instantly relax…such a strong instant physical reaction for me. Your comment about your thought that Noah was also a part of this vast ‘Oneness’ is so powerful and helped me experience this on a whole other level…Thank you. And Susan…I love the thought of a spiritual umbilical cord, so full of Life force, that can’t be severed and that links the eternal part of each of us. Images speak to me…thank you, too!

  13. Hi Mary –

    I can tell you without a doubt that animals ‘tell’ us when they are ready to go. There is a look in their eyes that is unmistakable and you will know it (unless they go peacefully during their sleep, that is). If they have an illness or are in pain from cancer (as mine were), they will let you know that a vet is needed. I have gone through this many times, and it is comforting to know you will recognize it – even if it hurts to see. Love Noah til he’s says ‘it’s time!’.

    Hugs – Wendy

  14. As a devoted worshipper of all cats, I know how hard it is to lose them. Am so glad that Noah is still with you. I had to have one of mine put down not long ago and I still miss her but I know that she had the best life that any cat could possibly have and know that Noah and your cats have been trated the same way.

  15. This really resonated with me, Mary.
    One month ago, my sweet boy Pooch had to be helped out of this life. He had been beginning to ail and then hit a crisis. He was hospitalized, but the vet thought he might come home with a different diet. The night before, I laid awake going through all possible scenarios. My head was like a run-away train. Finally, I spoke to Pooch through my thoughts and told him I would help him do whatever he wanted.
    When I went to the vet hospital the next day, he looked worse and his actions with me were begging for release and asking me to help. It all took care of itself.
    I saved this boy two short years ago and I was able to honor HIS wish at the end……once I got myself out of my own head. Your post speaks to this. Thank you.

    1. Dear Suzanne, has it really been two years? I so remember your sharing with us when you first finally got Pooch under your loving care. Know then, that his last couple of years were his very best! with you loving care, your eyes upon him and your arms around him at all times. In April, on the first no less, April Fool’s Day?, I took my beloved Dobie, 14 years old, with my dear son who insisted I not go alone, to let him go. There is no sadder day, but to be there as you said, to hold them as they and we pass with them into another realm of being and love, it is very sad, but precious too. Love you you Suzanne! Know Pooch’s life was oh so much better for having shared it with you!

      1. Dear Susan,
        Thank you for your love and comforting words. Pooch was SO special, in so many ways, and he honored me with his presence in my life these past two years. I was the blessed one here.
        I am so very sorry to hear that you had to say goodbye to your sweet Dobie. I know he was your ‘heart dog,’ and I truly feel your pain. This is how it ends up, always, with our dear pets, but all the loving years you have them outweigh that last moment.
        I wish you peace and a softening of the pain. Thank you so much for connecting with me in compassion.

  16. Thank you everyone for your wonderful, thoughtful comments. I also wanted to clarify that I was not in any way intimating that putting an animal down (at the vet) was a cruel thing to do. I have needed to do this, have also had a vet come to the house to put an animal down, and have kept animals home without any medical treatment, …I believe that the guidance to do the right thing for our particular animals will be given to us (to make the right decision for that animal) in the moment. Much love to you all today, Mary

  17. Dear Mary,
    These heartbreaking decisions are the only bad part of having animal companions. I am keeping you and dear Noah in my thoughts and prayers. He is such a fortunate cat to be with you at this time.

  18. Mary, I’ll keep you and Noah in my thoughts. I’m happy that he wasn’t ready to go and I hope he’s feeling better. It’s good that you gave him some quiet and TLC. God bless you.

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