SPIRIT MATTERS: Padding the resume as a midwife to cats


Sleep has eluded me this week.

The anxiety that bubbles just beneath the surface of my skin wakes me during the night, and there I lie for hours waiting to get back to sleep.

One night this week I decided to make the time useful and took out my journal. Writing during these sleepless nights sometimes help me to clear the mind and eventually fall back into dreamland.

I noticed a list I had made several days before, at the suggestion of a self-help guru: when you are feeling aimless and as though your life means little, make a list of 101 of your life’s accomplishments. So far, my list is at 90. The exercise wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be, and I know if I think hard enough or tap into other parts of my brain, I could finish my list.

My eyes fell on number 75: “helped Kitty give birth.”

“Kitty” was the family tabby cat during my adolescent and teen years. Also known as “Ralphie,” we weren’t sure he was a she until lazy summer afternoon when my brothers and I noticed her lying on the green shag carpet in the hallway, breathing heavily with blood around her.

Of course, this called for a phone call to Mom at work. I don’t know what she said about the cat, but I’m sure some her words probably included the directive, “Quit calling me at work!”

The babies soon began arriving, much to our excitement and wonder. With three sets of kids’ eyes on her every move, Kitty did what any modest, protective mother would do. She picked up her firstborn and moved to a more private area on the green shag carpet in my parents’ bedroom closet. When all was said and done, she had cleaned up her mess and began caring for her four little ones.

(The happy little family soon became a tourist destination for neighborhood kids.)

As it was in her life, Kitty giving birth was a momentous occasion for me as well, although technically I can’t say I “helped” her give birth, other than to passively encourage her to move her growing clan to more private quarters. As nature dictates, the events of her one and only birthing process unfolded as they were designed to, whether I was present or not.

Still, the occasion was enough to make the list of my life’s roles as a “midwife” to a household cat in labor, an event that taught me about the way things work in the Zavada Animal Kingdom, and the larger world animal kingdom at that.

As I am experiencing a life transition, it occurs to me there are lessons somewhere in this story for me. While human lives unfold in a much more complicated way and run the risk of outside interference to change the outcome, still, to those of us with a spiritual viewpoint, they unfold according to a purpose unique to each one of us.

Many times, that purpose isn’t clear without the benefit of hindsight. In the meantime, we fret and worry, as I am doing now.

All I can do in times like these is look back over my life when uncertainty transformed into new beginnings and trust the same law will continue to guide it well into the future.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times’ readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at [email protected] to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.



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