Friday, June 26, 2015

Touched By An Angel (Excerpt from Super Soulmates With Paws)

Touched By an Angel
Guiding, guarding, warning, comforting and
teaching—are these cat angels?
 By Cal Orey
author of the Healing Powers series

Image used in Cats Magazine with this story

Recently, Jude Balthis had a dream. Her cat Satie appeared on her bed, green eyes staring down at her owner. “It was clear that she had a message,” Balthis says. “She told me she knew I had done the best that I could to protect her.” The large calico had just died a month earlier.
            “I felt very guilty about her death,” Jude recalls. “In her later years, she wasn’t able to defend herself as well as when she was younger. I had secured the porch from other animals by installing gates, but it wasn’t enough.” One night, while Balthis and her family were away, raccoons broke into the barriers and killed Satie.
            Upon awakening from her dream, Balthis felt instantly that Satie had absolved her from blame. “I didn’t cry, even though I was on the verge of tears, because the dream allowed me to understand that she was in a safe place.”
            Companion animals bring us comfort and love, but are they also spiritual messengers who understand more than what seems possible?
            “An angel cat would be a messenger who would help you to know that love is all around you and that miracles are possible,” explains Linda Anderson, coeditor of Angel Animals, Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals. Bernard Ward says in his book Angels: They’re All Around and They’re Watching Over Us, “Angels are here to guide us, warn us, comfort us, teach us or just be a friend and companion.”


            Years ago, when Stephanie Laland was in her 20s, she was distraught about her life. She remembers sitting on her bed and crying. “Suddenly, my two-year-old calico cat Yoko jumped up on my lap and put her paws on my face and licked the tears away,” she says. And while some cats are deeply affectionate, Laland confesses, “this wasn’t the sort of action that my cat would normally do. At that moment she was my little angel.”
            Since then, Laland had turned her life around. She is the author of Peaceful Kingdom: Random Acts of Kindness by Animals and Animal Angels, and teaches workshops for people wishing to boost their bond with animals. She feels she knows firsthand how it feels to be touched by an animal angel.
            Many of the stories in her work suggest that the notion of animal angels isn’t merely whimsy. Take, for example, the story of Mrs. Sweeney, an elderly woman who had always welcomed animals in need into her home. One winter evening, she became ill and wasn’t able to move from her bed. As the fire from the stove went out, the house grew deathly cold. Too feeble and ill to move, she was sure she would freeze before daybreak. In the morning, when her neighbor came to check on her she discovered the freezing temperatures and raced to the old woman’s bed, fearing the worst. But Mrs. Sweeney was safe in bed, very much alive—and not cold at all. She was quite comfortable, with seven cats and a dog draped over her warm body like a fur blanket.
            Many near-death survivors have reported feeling a sensation of leaving their bodies—or traveling through tunnels of light.  Some people report encounters with relatives or even family pets.
            During a down-and-out period, reports Anderson, Debi Reimann, a legal secretary from Lacey, Washington, felt herself floating through a gray mist. She recalled seeing light and feeling an overwhelming sense of love. She saw a vision that appeared old and wise. Even though the “being” told Reimann that it wasn’t time to die, she didn’t want to go back to her painful existence in life. The “being” turned her around, directing her toward the tunnel that would take her back to life. At the other end she saw her cat, Missey Kitten, waiting for her. “The cat was the one being on earth that could touch her heart, and Debi made a decision to come back,” recalls Anderson.


            Eventually, Missey Kitten, the cat who’d given her owner the will to live, died. About a year after her death, Reimann was in her car and stopped at the traffic light. “Suddenly,” Anderson explains, “she heard purring next to her in the passenger seat. Turning to look, she saw Missey sitting on the seat. Mesmerized by this vision, she just stared, ignoring her green light. Seconds later, a drunk driver plowed through the red light on the other side. Reimann, who was too preoccupied to enter the intersection, never came in contact with the out-of-control car, and drove away with a memorable vision and her life. Some would say Missey Kitten used her angelic powers not once, but twice to save her owner.
            These afterlife stories, where cat angels come back from death to visit loved ones are more common than you’d imagine. Laland tells the story of Olivia, a friendly white cat with blue eyes who’d won the hearts of her owner and the other two cats in the household.
One day, Olivia was killed by a car, Laland explains. Everyone seemed depressed at her passing on. Even the other two cats in the household seemed lost, and they took to hanging out in Olivia’s old favorite spots.
            “One night after Olivia had been dead for some time, Olivia’s owner looked up from her reading to see Nell, one of her other cats, standing outside the window. Nell didn’t seem to be trying to attract her attention, so she continued to read. Suddenly she heard this great ‘woompf,’ as though the window was going to cave in. She got up and went to the window, hoping by her stern expression to convince Nell to be a bit more patient,” continues Laland. “Nell was no longer there. Instead, she saw a little white cat. She felt thrilled, hoping for an instant that somehow the little white at buried in the garden was not Olivia. But when she ran to the back door to let her in, the cat was gone.”
            The cat owner felt Olivia was admonishing her for not treating her other cats with the same lovingness that had come naturally with Olivia. “Her husband said later that the loud noise as the sound of a cat so spoiled that they threw her out of heaven,” adds Laland, “and she landed on the patio steps.” But, she writes, “I think Olivia wanted to give me one more chance to remember her as she was, instead of as I saw her when we buried her under her favorite dwarf maple.”
            So, was it Olivia or just her owner’s imagination?
            After Gandalf, my lovable 18-year-old gray-and-white cat died, I missed him and so did his cat-pal, Alex. While Gandalf had been bold, brash, and affectionate, Alex was shy, gentle, and aloof. However, just months after Gandalf’s death, Alex’s personality changed. He began to chase the dog, and nudge strangers. I like to think that Gandalf is still visiting us, although some might say that Gandalf is now a part of Alex.


            Many animal experts believe that there is a link between life and death. “Cats are so special and have a spiritual nature. And because they are so open spiritually they can be conduits for this unconditional love that comes from God or the creator or spirit,” says Anderson.
            Laura Pasten, a veterinarian from Carmel, California, adds, “A guardian angel is a companion animal. A cat that just comes into your life quickly and leaves is an angel that comes in for a purpose.” Some people believe that an angel is just supposed to point you in the right direction, or make a point and move on.


            So, what about the absurdity of it all?  Is it possible that a four-legged, furry feline could be a messenger of God? “It’s logically possible,” says Mike Meyer, PhD, professor of philosophy at the Santa Clara University in California. “Santa Claus is possible, although we have lots of good reasons to believe that he doesn’t exist.”
            But what would be a sign that a cat is a real angel? “It would have to be something pretty incredible,” he says. “If a cat parted the Red Sea and helped all the felines in Egypt escape, or lifted the Empire State Building—that would be a miracle,” says Meyer.
            Regardless of your beliefs, if you listen to the stories, each tale of animal angels led their owners to a spiritual connection that provided comfort and guidance. You, too, may experience an animal angel encounter—whether it’s a short-term sighting or a long-term gift of unconditional love. When you consider that Jill Hartman claims in All About Angels: A Biblical Look at God’s Messengers that an estimated 69 percent of Americans believe in angels, it just might be worth paying attention.

(Reprinted with permission from Cats Magazine, December 1999 issue.)

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