From Chapter 3 – Nourishment
Day 102 – During my morning walks, I stop by the redwood fence where the host’s dog is waiting for her daily rubdown and belly scratching.
I squeeze my hand through the square metal opening. It only takes seconds to convert the beast into a one hundred and twenty-pound puppy. I pull my hand back to leave, we lock eyes. Big brown globes filled with gratitude stare up. I take the moment to remind myself that she is also guided, and now, God can see me.
Next on my list. The three kittens need breakfast. Along the way, I see one of the residents struggling with junk in his yard.
The old man lived here since the beginning, before the camp ground turned into a ghost town. A coconut-sized goiter hangs over the stretched-out neck hole of his t-shirt. He hacks between every other word. I can’t tell whether he likes me or not because he’s always making gestures with his hands like I’m a fool. Piles of trash around his lopsided trailer give sanctuary to the larger feral tomcats I warn the kittens to stay away from. But, there’s something about this guy. My heart aches for him. He only knows filth, loneliness, and mangy felines.
I call out a cheerful, “Good morning!” and smile as big as I can.
He throws his right arm into the air and coughs out a “Yeah.” That means he doesn’t want company. Ignoring his request, I kneel down to coerce one of the fleabags out from the trash heap with some food. I’m determined to know if one of them is the kitten’s father because I plan on claiming kitty support. Needless to say, he doesn’t find my joke funny.
Searching for a topic that interests him, we bicker over how long the rain will last and whether or not I can teach the three kittens I took guardianship. Looking directly into his eyes I search for God, stumbling upon a lesson.
When I make it to the back of the property, the kittens are all lined up. In order: grey, black, grey. Max, the bravest, charges ahead the moment he sees me. The other two, still a bit fearful, patiently wait under the crumbling roof.
During each feeding, I sit closer to the plate. Inch by inch and fifty days later, I’m finally within reach. I stay until the plate is cleared. The older feral cats won’t approach when I’m around so they can’t bully the little ones from their food. While I wait, it’s a perfect time to engage Adam. Right foot over left knee. Three deep breaths. Here we go.
“How are you?” rings like church bells in my head.
Still unsure of how to answer. I go with what I know, “I’m well. And, you?”
No answer. Again, not uncommon. Get to the point.
I ask, “If God lives through us, experiencing the physical world as we do, is God ever disappointed in how we spend our time in these bodies?”
Reaching into the front pocket of my hoodie, I take a pen and small notebook. Opening it to the next blank page, I record Adam’s answer.
“By the time humankind was imaged, God learned that if a species is to survive, to flourish, to become an extension of its Creator, there must be free will. Therefore, no boundaries are placed along your life path. It is your perception of lack that filters your view of a truly fulfilling life. There are no expectations set upon you, as God’s love is limitless.”
“What you choose to do with your time in physical form is of your free will. Anything you focus on, bring your attention to, or move your awareness towards, God shares in that moment… with you. When you engage, God is engaging. When you express emotion, God shares in the sensation. When you are kind to each other, you are being kind to God. When you maim or hurt another living creature, you are doing so to God. When someone is murdered or raped, it is happening to God. However, regardless of what is…. God is always thankful.”
I open my eyes. The three kittens have left. Their plate clean. I rub my hands along my thighs and set my gaze. The oaks are shedding. A reminder: Give away that which no longer serves a purpose; release what no longer wants to stay.
Back at my cabin, it’s warm enough to take a long-needed shower. Adjusting the water temperature, I look over my shoulder and into the mirror. Staring into my own eyes – I look back at God. Seeing that after only three months I was no different than the old man. Seeing that I am him, a recluse living out of a cabin, eating out of cans, sleeping in filth with three mangy kittens.