There are some moments in life where emotion is so strong, that you have no choice but to take action: to create, to express. In this moment tears have filled my eyes with love for the sweetness I have just witnessed.
Two nights ago, I made my way from daily Taiji practice to Master Gu’s home for dinner. On the way up the stairs, I spotted a small kitten burrowed into the corner of the steps. Her rear-end was covered in her own urine and her face was patched with blood. A lost look filled her eyes, and an aura of sadness was cast in all directions. I dropped to my knees and began to pray for this sweet kitten. My fellow martial artists coaxed me to come to dinner. Not being able to communicate with them except with hand and face gestures, I made it clear that I would be a few minutes. With my hands burning over this little being, I mustered up all the Reiki signs I know and called upon the highest of angels.
Ali’an came back with a hand full of rice, put it next to the kitten and grabbed my shoulder to follow him for dinner. Reluctantly, I followed him. On this night, I was the first to leave the dinner table. I rushed to the kitten, wrapped her in a small towel, and began my descent down the mountain. Her whole body shook in fear and her eyes looked glazed over. My mind was racing with solutions to help this little being. I thought it was possible that I could feed her an egg or soy milk, until she was big enough to eat bugs. As we entered the dark woods, she let out a slight “Purr.” Back home, I thought. Spirits lifted a bit and I began singing her “Hakuna Matata” as I fantasized about us catching worms and moths together. Then, she began sneezing blood on me. I have no idea what a rabid animal looks or behaves like. But I was filled with instant fear. What if I get some weird disease up on this mountain in China? What would I do?
I looked deep in her eyes, and thought, “I am so big, this sweet little creature can’t hurt me.” The thought of Jesus helping the lepers popped in my mind. Approaching disease and death fearlessly with utmost faith in creator is the only way to move through it. I let go.
I made this sweet kitty a bed in a cardboard box. She nuzzled her face in the corner of the box and her whole body shook. She was basically non responsive besides shaking with fear, so feeding her was not possible. I stripped off my clothes and cleaned myself thoroughly before entering my meditation space. Lighting candles and incense, I dropped into full lotus and began a deep meditation for the healing and well being of this kitten. My face felt flushed, my head spun and my body broke out in a full sweat. I was burning up. Fear entered my mind once again, “Am I infected with disease?” If I was, then so be it. I opened my spine and focused on grounding the energy into the Great Mother. She accepted my offering and the fire inside me began to subside.
I woke up in the morning feeling refreshed, and ran to see the kitten. Curled up in a ball, her face was absent of blood. Her eyes seemed rested but her spirit still seemed crushed. “I don’t know where you Momma is, but I will help you find her” I repeated. After a failed attempt to feed her, I ran up the mountain to morning practice and breakfast.
I spoke with Master Gu about the kitten, but he did not know anyone who would want her. He said, “I do not know anyone here on the mountain has a need for a cat, but I will ask around.” I could not watch this kitten die.
After lunch, I ran back to her home. She was barely responsive. I grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and took her in the shower with me. I scrubbed her whole body clean with soap and warm water. Needless to say, she was not very happy with me, but she was super clean! In my arms, we took a walk through the woods together looking for her mother or a surrogate cat that would help her. With no luck, my hopes began to shrink. I made my way through the village with her. Even though everyone’s eyes lit up when they saw her, no one seemed to want her.
I took her in a box to afternoon Taiji practice with me. Our amazing cook, Yanzi Jie, was so excited to hold the kitty. She pet her and smiled at her. I began flowing Taiji, but the kitten would not stop meowing. It seemed she was sparked back to life. An image of Master Gu’s son popped in my head. I grabbed the kitten and ran to Adam. “Adam, I have a new pet for you,” I yelled. His 20 year old face beamed with excitement as he embraced the kitten. Immediately he logged on to the Internet to find out what to feed her, and ran out to buy her milk. A weight lifted off my chest; she found a home.
That evening I checked on her occasionally as Adam continually attempted to feed her baby milk from a syringe. Feeling satisfied that she found a responsible father, I made my way to bed. The next day Adam reported that she had accepted some of his milk, but had to go down the mountain to run errands. He asked for my help watching her, but I was busy training for most of the day. Yanzi Jie took on a big part of the responsibility of watching her and feeding bits of milk in her mouth. It seemed that this kitty was going to become part of the Taiji family. And then the sun rose today.
I was not sure why I stayed back with the kitten as the others went off to practice morning Taiji. I thought I had to “get things done,” but that was impossible as she was meowing and pacing back and forth on the outside patio. I tried feeding her, massaging her, and cuddling her; nothing seemed to calm her down. That is when I saw her mother.
A beautiful, strong, feral cat walked up the stairs where I found the abandoned kitten. Her eyes darted from side to side looking for humans. Her bushy tail stood erect and her ears tall. She heard the call of her child.
The mother cat jumped on to the patio and spun around her baby. She made eye contact with me and lowered her belly to the ground. I did not move. I beamed love and peace to her, letting her know I was not there to harm her. She made low sounds to her baby to follow her. She ran up a flight of stairs, but the kitten could not make it right away. The mother frantically tried to hold her in the scruff of her neck and escape back into the woods. I watched as they successfully made it up and down a flight of stairs. Then the real challenge made itself obvious.
The mother leapt from a concrete walkway about 1.5 meters over a small ravine to a rock wall. She seemed to persuade the small kitten to follow, but the baby barely could climb stairs let alone make this leap. The mother looked full of anxiety. She did not want to lose her baby again, but she seemed in a rush to get back in the woods. I peeked my head around the corner and watched from afar.
The mother grabbed the kitten by the scruff of the neck and made the jump. Crash. As they landed, the little baby fell and tumbled about 5 meters down the rock wall into a dark ravine. My stomach and heart dropped together. I could not believe what I just witnessed. If this kitten was not dead, it was certainly badly injured.
I wanted to go to practice, but I could not leave this scene. I drank some tea and calmed down for a bit, mulling over my options. I heard her distant calls, a soft meow filling the air. I couldn’t leave her down there alone. I slipped on a pair of shoes 3 sizes too small for me and climbed backwards down the ravine. Praying to God as I lowered myself down the brittle rock into a dark hole filled with rubbish and old scrap metal. With a flashlight, I spotted the kitten. As I approached her, I heard a deep growl coming from the rocks above me.
The closest thing to a living tiger on this mountain looked down at me with wide eyes ready to pounce. I felt like Benny from “The Sandlot,” only I did not have my converse All Stars on and I was not ready to run from the beast. By the grace of God, the back of someone’s house is connected to the ravine and their window was open. I grabbed the kitten, sprinted to the window, popped the screen and ran through the house to the main street.
Covered in dust, dirt, and with a healthy baby kitten under my arm, the local Chinese people looked at me like I was a crazy man. I paid no attention and ran back up the stairs to the mother cat. She hissed at me as she leapt over the ravine back on to the rock wall. This time I was not scared. I looked at her in the eyes and did my best to communicate peace. I climbed up a ways towards the forest and let the kitten down amongst the trees, past the ravine. Respectfully, I backed away and let the mother approach her baby. I watched as the mother circled her kitten with happiness and guided her up the mountain to their home. When the little kitten stumbled, the mother grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and helped her along. It was minutes before they disappeared into the woods together.
Adam and I will miss her, but all animals need a momma.