Proof of animals’ link to the divine.
Posted in , Jul 23, 2021
I don’t know about your cat, but my cat, Desmond, sees things. Things that I can’t see. Yes, he has senses more acute than mine—smell, hearing, etc. I’ll give him that. Still, that doesn’t explain the moments he seems transfixed by something invisible to me. Almost as if he can see into another dimension, another world. How is that possible?
Dr. Linda Bender, a veterinarian and author of the book Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals, believes that experiences like I have with Desmond occur because animals are more naturally attuned to the spiritual world.
“Humans have created so many obstacles for ourselves to that mystical connection,” she said.
Consider these five stories that suggest that animals are more spiritually connected than we might imagine. And the next time you catch your pet staring into space, don’t assume they are simply daydreaming.
Alice Koerber from Downington, Pennsylvania
Out in the yard trimming a tree, I thought, Fred should see me now. We’d been married almost 50 years when lung cancer took him from me. In the four months since, I wondered every day how I’d go on alone without him by my side.
I threw some clippings into a pile and felt a presence behind me. A deer stood stock-still, staring at me from three yards away. I’d never seen such a noble-looking animal before. She was almost entirely white, except for a bit of brown on her forehead. But not just white. Immaculately white.
Her coat was so clean, so impossibly pristine, it nearly glowed. I took a small step closer, half wondering if this deer was real or some kind of vision.
The deer held her ground. She didn’t get spooked. She didn’t run, as a normal deer would. But then again, there was nothing normal about this deer. She watched me until I finished my job and went back inside.
The next afternoon, my mysterious visitor returned. And the next. There wasn’t a day in over two months that I didn’t see her. I came to rely on the visits. A strength, a peacefulness seemed to radiate from her and soothe my aching heart. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t without God. I wasn’t really without Fred, even.
“She doesn’t go into anyone else’s yard but yours,” a neighbor mentioned one day. And eventually the white deer stopped coming to my yard too. But not before I’d gotten the message of her comforting presence.
Anne Weizel from Milford, Connecticut
I’d finally fallen asleep, only to be awakened by my cat, Olivia, meowing on the front porch. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” I said, wondering what trouble she’d gotten into now. I didn’t have time for her antics, stealing this and that from the neighbors’ yards. It had been a long, hard, sad day for me, grieving the loss of my mother. The last thing I needed was a complaint from a neighbor.
I slid into my slippers and headed down the hall, thoughts of Mom following me. Lord, there’s so much about her to miss! Her best recipes, her favorite songs, her patient advice and her roses. How she loved her red roses! She tended her bushes with the same devotion that she bestowed upon her family.
“Where have you been?” I asked as I opened the door to loud meows. There sat Olivia, a muddy gardening glove in front of her, her latest offering. I’d wash it before finding its owner.
For now I just hoped I could get back to sleep. “We’ll tackle this tomorrow,” I said to Olivia. But as I picked up the glove, I changed my mind: I’d buy a brand-new pair of gloves for my neighbor. I’d keep this one, decorated with roses. Red roses.
Tanya Kirkendall from Redlands, California
The second I walked into my kitchen that morning I saw it. A cricket sitting right in the middle of the tile floor. I hated crickets. How would I get any sleep with him chirp-chirp-chirping all night?
And I needed to sleep desperately. I was ready to go back to bed. My whole body ached. I felt tired, light-headed and nauseated, worse than I could ever remember feeling. That was saying a lot. I’d lived with fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal pain disorder, and other health issues for years. Usually I was able to push through my fatigue and pain. This week, though, I couldn’t even seem to get up in the morning.
The day before, I’d done the laundry. I had felt so weak taking clothes out of the dryer that I’d had to sit on the floor and toss the clean clothes into my cart. I didn’t have the strength to fold them. If not for the elevator, I wouldn’t have made it back up to my apartment.
Now, although I’d slept for hours, I still didn’t feel any better. I’d dragged myself to the kitchen to look for something that might settle my stomach. How had a detestable cricket managed to hop up the three flights of stairs to my apartment? Maybe I could trap him. I grabbed a cup from under the sink and crept toward the critter. I lunged, my bleary eyes struggling to focus. The cricket jumped just out of reach. Was he teasing me? I didn’t have the strength for this! Okay, let’s try again. I moved closer. I don’t want to hurt you.
Right before I dropped the cup over him, he leaped away, vanishing into the crack between the stove and the wall.
I leaned down and peered into the crack. The stink of rotten eggs knocked me back. A gas leak!
I flung the window open and took a deep breath of fresh air. Then I called the utility company. A repairman came right away. He discovered that the regulator on my stove was broken. Gas must have been slowly leaking into my apartment for days. No wonder I’d been feeling so awful.
As for that cricket? I caught him and released him outside. He’d saved my life. It was only right for me to return the favor.
Roberta K. Ray from Butte, Montana
It was cold that Tuesday night in January, even for Butte, Montana. I was at my mom’s house, cleaning up after dinner, when my sister, Penny, called from Southern California.
“I can’t believe there are no shepherds around here for adoption,” Penny said.
We’ve always been a German shepherd family, and Penny wanted a young male to continue the streak. She’d visited all the shelters in her area. Not one had a shepherd.
“It’s going to work out, honey,” Mom said.
By the time we hung up, it was 25 degrees below zero and snowing hard. I bundled up for the mile walk home with my German shepherd–wolf mix, Duke, who accompanied me to Mom’s every week.
“Something tells me you should walk down Park Street tonight,” Mom said, patting Duke on the head.
“All right,” I said, even though we normally took Galena Street home. I knew how Mom felt about her intuitions.
Within minutes my glasses fogged up. I could barely see. Which way was Park Street? Somehow, Duke knew where to turn. He pulled me to the other side of the block and stopped. I tugged on his leash, but he wouldn’t budge.
“What’s wrong, boy?” Then I heard it—a dog, whining. Through my cloudy lenses, I could make out a dark shape.
“Come!” I shouted. The dog ran over, sniffed Duke and fell into step with us. He had no collar for me to hold on to, yet he stayed by my side. Finally we got to my house. Duke and the other dog rushed inside. My glasses cleared. There before me stood a young male German shepherd!
For two weeks, I called the animal shelter to see if anyone had reported a missing shepherd. No one had. I named him Waldo and took him for a checkup. The vet said he was 10 months old and had severe arthritis.
Soon Waldo was on a flight to California. Penny had just moved to Joshua Tree, where a dog with stiff joints would thrive in the desert heat.
Finding Waldo that snowy night was no accident. Like Mom, Duke had a feeling too.
JoLynne Walz from Atlanta, Georgia
I moved 800 miles away from my family to start my first job after college. I loved my work, but coming home to the emptiness of the apartment I’d rented—that was no fun!
Early one morning, I was awakened by what could only be the meowing of a cat, and it was close by. I got up to investigate. In the kitchen, I found the back door open. I was certain I’d locked it the night before. To my amazement, there was a tattered, green-eyed tiger cat striding imperiously around the room. I quickly searched my apartment. Nothing was missing; nothing had been tampered with. Reassured but puzzled, I knelt to pet the cat. She nuzzled against me, purring contentedly.
A few days passed, and no one in the neighborhood claimed her or advertised for a lost cat. By that time, it would have been hard to give her up. We clearly enjoyed each other’s company.
“I guess it’s safe to name you, my friend,” I told her. “I’m going to call you Theodora.”
That night, during my weekly phone call home, I told my mother about my new four-footed roommate.
“I’m glad you have a pet, JoLynne!” she said. “I’ve been worried about you being lonely. In fact, I’ve been praying about it every day.” Then she chuckled. “Wherever did you get that name—Theodora?”
“I don’t know, Mom. It just came to me out of nowhere, the way she did.”
What neither of us knew then—but what I learned later—was the derivation of the name. It’s from the Greek: theos, “God,” and doron, “gift.” Theodora the cat: like her name, she was a gift from God.
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