There is probably nothing in the world that brings me greater joy than being in the company of my cats – so much so, that I have often been accused of loving my cats more than the people in my life!  But the truth is, for me, my cats have a particular and unique way in which they connect to me that is quite different from that of most human interaction.  I feel safe and tranquil in their presence, I am freer to be myself and be in my own skin, I never have to explain anything to them or be judged by them, and they keep me grounded. It’s much harder for me to feel that way around people.  I am an introvert, and cats model the very things introverts crave:  solitude, peace and tranquility, quiet reflection and focused observation, aversion to being the center of attention or being expected to “perform”, being “one” with nature, and spending their time and happiness with those who “get them” and so can more fully share their world.

Cats, and really all animal companions, teach us something that we humans have a very difficult time emulating:  While they may have their own unique personalities, their differences do not prevent them from loving unconditionally – no matter how they, themselves are being treated.  It’s remarkable to watch, and is a deep lesson in love.

But I would go one step further.  I’ve actually come to believe that the reason so many humans are so deeply connected to their animal companions, is because animals are bridging the connection for us between our humanness and the divinity within us.  Anyone who has an animal companion in their life knows that an animal’s love touches our very soul – they fill us up with pure joy!  Animals recognize something greater in us, no matter what we do and say to them, and I believe that it is their recognition of that spark within us, that is being felt by us as they observe it and tap into it.  For that period of time that we are in their presence, their unconditional love for us enables us to actually experience the divine – because the divine also manifests as unconditional love.  We feel it, and we react to it – and we don’t even realize they have made that connection for us.  This is perhaps why people can feel so calm in the presence of their animal companions, and it is perhaps why the dying are comforted when in the presence of animals.  Animals don’t need to speak to us with words – their mission is to teach us to feel, to feel deeply and completely, and to recognize and witness that spark within that connects us to everything.  I know that some of my deepest feelings of compassion have been felt in the presence of animals or in witnessing their pain, and I know that some of my deepest sorrow has been felt in the loss of an animal.  And, further, I don’t have to know a thing about an animal I am seeing for the first time, to immediately feel a love rise up within me and be drawn to them simply by encountering their presence.  I can walk by a thousand people and not feel a thing – sometimes not even see them – but I see and feel each and every animal I encounter.  They are teaching us to be present in the world, to feel, and to draw out those feelings in others.  And they do all this without even uttering a word!  They radiate love, they inspire love, they give love, and they invite love into their life from anyone willing to give it.  They are little mirrors and messengers of the divine!