Spiritual teachings come in many forms. For Jan Kolb, teachers belonging to the animal kingdom, particularly Rochester the cat, showed her how animals help humans to be sensitive, courageous, even telepathic, and how their unconditional love can ease our emotional wounds and open our hearts.
In this very personal book of experiences, sharings, confessions, and deep thoughts, the author sings the praises of all God's creatures through photos, poems, and meditations. With heartwarming stories on the spirituality of animals, especially our animal companions, as well as accounts of senseless cruelties to innocent beings, this book is an impassioned voice for examining animal rights.
"Jan Kolb has written a very special book that will surprise you in many ways. Learning compassion and reverence by way of the animal kingdom makes perfect sense. She ponders deep questions and important issues which inspire her passion for all of life. Whether or not you join her crusade for the animal kingdom, you will end up thinking, and awareness leads to change." Terry Lynn Taylor, author, Messengers of Light
"Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water is an integral element in traditional shamanic teachings and in the works of such Christian mystics as St. Francis of Assisi. In this inspirational book, Janice echoes those spiritual teachers who celebrate Oneness with all living things and demonstrates, through her own experiences with animals, that respect for all life forms truly elevates the human soul." Brad Steiger, author, Cats Incredible; Man and Dog
Table of Contents
Foreword Robert A. Kolb, Jr.
PART I: MY SPIRITUAL EDUCATION BY ROCHESTER THE CAT
1. We Meet and the Angels Sing
2. The Bonding Ritual
3. Breaking the Language Barrier
4. Instruments of His Peace
6. Companions on Retreat
7. Channel of Love
8. A Tragedy and a Turning Point
PART II: PRACTICING NONVIOLENCE AND COMPASSION TOWARDS ALL GOD'S CREATURES
9. A Call to Abandon the Ostrich Syndrome
10. A Challenge to Christians: Do Unto Others
11. Stories of Christian Compassion For All Creatures
13. The Commitment
14. A Call to Prayer for God's Creatures
15. Grieving for Our Animal Companions
16. Animals and Heaven
17. Christian Thoughts on Animal Rights
18. Additional Atrocities Against Animals
19. Closing Meditation
Appendix A: Poems For Meditation: In Reverence of All God's Creatures
Appendix B: Animal Pictures For Meditation
Appendix C: Passages to Ponder on Our Relationships with Animals
A Declaration of Animal Rights
Reference Books for Further Reading
We Meet, and the Angels Sing!
"I love these little people: and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." -Charles Dickens
The black and white van pulled into the very large parking lot of a very ordinary little mall in Rochester, New Hampshire. It was late morning of a bright and beautiful day in June, and my husband and I smiled and commented on the blessing of our safe arrival. We slowly opened the doors and slid down from our seats and out of the van. Our teenage daughter, Janna, rolled gracefully out from the side door with her curly hair going in various directions and her expression still one of drowsiness. We had travelled through the night from our home in Pennsylvania, and this stop was only to quickly buy groceries. We would take them with us to our cottage on Lake Balch, some twenty-five miles further north.
As we entered the mall we were immediately confronted with a father and two children sitting on a round bench outside the supermarket and holding a sign proclaiming, "Free Kittens." Next to them on the bench was a closed carton. My daughter and I, upon encountering this sight, widened our eyes in a spontaneous secret signal to each other, without my husband realizing what was about to befall him.
Now, lest you begin to feel sorry for my husband, let me hurriedly take you back many years in order to understand the scene that has been unraveling before your eyes. I had been born into a home with a cat and had grown up with cats. Until I married and left home, exactly upon turning twenty-one years, I had had the joy and companionship of cats. But the day I married Bob, he said emphatically, "No Cats!"
In my thirty-two years of marriage I had loved and reared six children - five wonderful daughters and a fine son. I had also loved and cared for three hardy and adorable little Cairn Terriers and all the puppies of their many litters.
There had also been hamsters during those thirty-two years, and guinea pigs, mice, turtles, gerbils, fish - and one hermit crab that was lost in our home.
All of these, but my husband had said, "No Cats!"
Occasionally, throughout these many years, I had asked if I might have a kitten. More recently our daughter Janna had voiced the same request. Always the answer came back, "No Cats!"
Ah, but this day in the mall in New Hampshire, some supernatural power took over within me as I made my first pleas to Bob, in order that Janna and I might have one of these free kittens. When his usual reply came back to me, accompanied by the expression on his face that I well recognized, I would not be silenced! I asked again. Again. AGAIN. I began to frighten myself in my persistence, which refused to buckle under his rising anger and stormy appearance. I could not quiet my pleas until I at last, after thirty-two years, had won my simple request. Nothing else mattered in those moments but a "yes." I could never again bear to hear "No Cats!"
"All right, all right, get one, but I'll have nothing to do with it," he hissed. I began to say a continuous stream of "thank yous" and ran off to find my daughter, who had delicately removed herself earlier from the muffled battle scene. Oh, the joy and excitement of the two of us as we stifled squeals of victory between us, there in the aisle of the supermarket.
I, delirious with happiness, told my daughter to quickly go and pick out a kitten before her father changed his mind. I then dashed about the store to complete the shopping in a flash, with the hope of assuaging Bob's anger by my promptness.
Janna rushed back to find me. "Male or female?" she said. "Female, I suppose - perhaps easier to train." "But the little boy is so cute," said Janna. "He likes me!" "Get the boy then, quickly," I said and finished the shopping with a final toss of kitty litter and cans of cat food into the basket.
I pushed the cart of groceries to the van and waiting husband, and Janna carried the carton that contained our treasure. Peeking out whenever he could push his tiny head through was a beautiful pale orange and white kitten. Oh, I was ecstatic! Somehow I had expected to see a black cat like my cats had been years ago, and so the lovely light fur of this new kitten surprised me! He was perfect! My daughter sat in the seat behind, holding the carton as we drove, and the tiny face would pop out and look around. "I won't have a cat that is not clean!" stormed Bob. We drove further, with Janna and I sneaking glances at each other while adoring the kitten. "I don't want to have to listen to a lot of meowing!" Bob said, as we drove further. "This cat will be nothing but trouble!" he continued, "And what will we do with him when we travel?"
Silence took over for a bit, and then I suggested we give our sweet kitten a name. After several were thrown about to digest, it struck me that "Rochester" would be a fine name, after the town in which we had adopted him. It was voted a yes! Suddenly the man said, "Call him Chester for short." My daughter and I agreed and exchanging glances made no comment that her father had temporarily softened and joined in our joy. Once in our cottage and the little litter box was prepared, the tiny Chester jumped in to test it, thereby setting a pattern of faithfulness. From that moment on, he never gave Bob cause to accuse him of uncleanliness. He never made a mistake.
Soon we realized we had a very silent new family member, for Rochester never meowed. He spoke only from that day forward with his big loving golden eyes, which matched his fur, and he padded and ran about softly on his little white marshmallow paws. He was so grateful to be ours! He would never be trouble! He obviously wanted Janna and me to be proud of him, and he never gave cause for the man to be angry.
Each evening this dear little cat curled up on me as I slept, finding warm and comfortable places upon me to sleep throughout the night. One morning upon awakening, I saw my kitten lying across the forehead of my husband as he lay on his back beneath the covers. I said nothing of this but spoke to Bob as if a kitten was not upon his forehead. He replied in like manner as I left the room. How hysterical it was to talk to him with Rochester on his face! I ran to the next room and burst into laughter! It was better left alone and unremarked upon. I did not want to make Bob feel foolish, and I was so anxious that they come to know each other. This scene was often repeated from that day on.
As the days passed in the little cottage and Chester gave and gave his love to his new family, Janna and I soon began to hear:
"Is your dinner good, Harry?"
Not able to express it, my husband had given our little cat another name, his secret way, perhaps even surprising and inexplicable to himself, of showing a special affection for the tiny kitten. And oh, how Chester proved he could travel and not be trouble to this man! In the first year of his life alone, Rochester made fifteen trips from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania and back, travelling the entire ten hours each trip on my lap.
All the words in the world from my daughter and I to convince Bob to accept the kitten were now not needed. The clean, obedient little Chester, with his gift of continual silence and unconditional love, had warmed Bob's heart and won for "Harry" his own acceptance.
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1997
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