Who would have thought that my most consistent prayer partner would be a four-legged friend?
- Posted on Jan 6, 2014
I start my day with prayer. Centering prayer, in which, rather than saying prayers aloud, you sit in silence, letting go of thoughts and distractions and resting in God. The point isn’t to talk to God, or even to listen to him, but to simply be with him.
Early every morning after I feed the cats, I settle into the big gray overstuffed armchair tucked in a corner of my bedroom by a window.
First I read a devotion from one of the books I keep beside the chair. Then I put the book down and hit the start button on the meditation timer app I downloaded onto my phone. A soft bell chimes, signaling the beginning of my 20 minutes of prayer.
I close my eyes, repeat a sacred word two or three times then sit in silence. The sixteenth-century mystic Saint John of the Cross wrote that God’s first language is silence. I’ve chosen centering prayer as a way to connect with God–beyond words, beyond thoughts, beyond emotions.
Centering prayer has been my spiritual practice for almost 20 years, one that’s seen me through many changes–my divorce, my parents’ deaths, several moves, new jobs. A constant through the inevitable ups and downs of life.
I was content with my practice. But then one day a friend and I were discussing our prayer lives. She happened to mention that when she sat on her sofa to pray every morning, her cat joined her. My reaction was instantaneous... and not very Christian. I was green with envy!
My friend certainly hadn’t trained her cat (who can?), so I reasoned that she must exude such a peaceful aura that her cat couldn’t resist basking in it. Obviously, I was less holy, less spiritual than she was.
My two cats did nothing like that when I prayed. They nibbled at their breakfast. Stood sentinel at the window, watching for birds. Lounged in their favorite spots in the living room. Groomed themselves. They did what cats do.
And I did what we humans often do. I let my feelings of inadequacy niggle at me for a while. I wondered why my connection to God was somehow lacking. Then I got caught up in the busyness of my day-to-day life and forgot about my friend’s feline prayer partner.
Until one morning about a year ago. I was sitting in my big gray chair, eyes closed in prayer, when I felt one of my cats leap onto its overstuffed arm and slowly walk across my lap.
I kept my eyes shut, trying to stay centered. But it was hard not to be distracted when my cat turned and walked across my lap the other way. Which cat was it? I took a peek.
It was Mimi, my nine-year-old tuxedo cat. She stretched out next to me, settling herself against my left side, and rested her head on my thigh. She lay there, completely relaxed. Completely still.
I closed my eyes again. I listened to the gentle rhythm of Mimi’s breath. I let the soft warmth of her body seep into me. And something about her stillness seeped into me as well, lulling me, pulling me deeper into silence, into peace.
Since that day, every morning when I sit in my comfy chair to pray, Mimi has joined me. As soon as the meditation bell chimes, she pads into the room, jumps up on the chair and nestles against me. Then we both settle down, close our eyes and rest in the presence of God.
After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”?
Watch and listen as Anne Simpkinson describes what makes Mimi so special!
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