"All that we need to enter into the sacred dance with the miracle that is Life, is for us to ask to participate…and graciously receive the hand that is offered."—Michael J Tamura, You Are the Answer
"Listen!" I turned to Raphaelle, my wife, and pressed a finger across my lips.
"What is it?" She asked.
We stopped walking as I peered into the moonlit nightscape of silhouettes surrounding us: A scattering of trees, homes snuggled up for the night, Halloween cats perched on fences, and a bit of horizon beyond the last patch of open field left in the subdivision. We had strolled along the meandering sidewalk, fully two miles from home, on this moonlit jasmine-laced late spring night. And, as the clock struck twelve, in the hush from our dangling conversation, we heard every timbre of dog-barks, a cacophony of catfights, and the occasional rumble of traffic cruising down the boulevard. Then, there it was again: A faint mewing.
"There!" I said. "Did you hear it?"
"You mean the kitten?" Raphaelle asked, wondering why I was making such a big deal about the cry of one little creature when we'd been walking through an opera of woofing and meowing and screeching.
I realized it was just a tiny meow from a kitten. What was it about this particular kitten calling out that stopped me in my tracks? I asked myself. No ready answer popped into my awareness so I shrugged and said, "Yeah, I guess you're right. It's just a kitten." Then, we turned around to continue our leisurely amble homeward.
We made it to the end of the block when, this time, Raphaelle stopped. "Listen," she said, "the kitten's meows haven't gotten any further away. I think it's following us." pointing to the center divider. And a scrawny little black and white feral cat skipped across the road straight for us.
Meowing and purring she rubbed up against my legs and then Raphaelle's. "If you're hungry," I said to her, "you can come home with us and we'll feed you. But, it'll be quite a walk home from here." The kitten leapt, making a primal growl deep in its throat and caught a delectable snack-moth. After polishing down the tidbit, she licked her lips and looked up at me as if to say, "Well, what are we waiting for?" Then, she walked home with us, the whole two miles.
You could say, that on that night under the spell of the full moon, we were broadsided by love in a fur coat. Both a beauty and a beast, she entered our lives and sauntered right into our hearts. Today, she's been a beloved member of our family for over fourteen years. I can't imagine a life now that didn't include this nine-pound wonder with a perfect black and white Taoist yin-yang symbol encircling her regal nose. And, true to her marking, she's been a living example of the flow of polarities: one moment a princess and the next a huntress, now a Zen monk and then a Ninja assassin. She's been a model of living in the moment and a master of relaxation, yoga, and kung fu. She's demonstrated amazing telepathic abilities, astral projection, and telekinesis. But, above all, she's taught me, time and again, that love never gives up—she'll bite you if you cross her line, but she will always forgive you and love you all over anew. Ever since she entered our lives, it's been like having a resident magician regularly pulling treasures of life lessons out of the empty hat. Of course, we had aptly named her "Magic."
I don't remember exactly when it was that I finally returned to my question from that night: What was it about Magic's call that made me drop everything else and listen? There I was engrossed in conversation with Raphaelle, enjoying our walk, and then one little mewing field kitten burst into my consciousness to command my complete attention. The answer, I realized, was quite simple, actually. Isn't that how real magic—not the sleight-of-hand variety but rather the magic that is the gift of grace—always enters our lives? Even if we are in a crowded and noisy room, when a person of great power and grace walks in, we stop and pay attention.
The simple truth of life is that life continuously gives to life. And, every moment, our purpose invites us to join in life's fulfillment. When we choose to step out of our busyness and preoccupations that we so often confuse with living, life can grace us with its abundance of miracles. When we're relaxed, enjoying our being and we open up even for just a moment to listen to the gentlest, to the meekest call of nature, what is beyond the mundane world can then enter our awareness. Yet, we often close the door on magic entering our lives by letting what we assume in our mind as "reality" preside over our inner knowing, just as I almost did that fateful night. Although, I had intuitively stopped to heed the call, I let the thought that it was just the ordinary meowing of a kitten discount it, that it didn't warrant further attention. Fortunately, the true calling of life's purpose doesn't give up on us; I received a second chance when Magic caught Raphaelle's attention moments later.
Rewind: Just a week before Magic entered our lives, I was given an opportunity to receive a kitten from a new litter. Yet, at the time, since we were in the process of looking for a dog to bring into our fold, Raphaelle vetoed adopting a cat. Seeing my disappointment, however, she compromised and said, "Well, if a cat follows you home someday, I won't keep you from taking it in." Of course, as they say, the rest is history.
The call that pulled me out of my pleasant preoccupations that night fourteen years ago wasn't the cry of a stray kitty. After all, I heard dozens of cat and kitten calls during my walk that held no such sway on my awareness. Instead, Magic was the delightful furry ambassador advocating a much deeper calling: A call from within my own being. In a sense, it was she who picked up the ringing phone and said,"It's for you. Your soul purpose is calling. You need to answer." And I am grateful that I did.
The call from our soul's purpose comes in all manners and forms. By whatever way it comes, however, it never fails to remind us who we truly are. And it guides us along our path, so that we may learn to fully live our spiritual life.
Obviously, it isn't my ultimate purpose in life to have a pet cat. Yet, having Magic in my life has helped fulfill aspects of my purpose that otherwise I may have missed. Through all that I've learned caring for her, loving her, and above all, being loved by her in the most unique ways, I have become more myself. Every day I find more of my inner self, coming out to live in this world. Whenever we let down our defense barriers and ask to participate in life as it unfolds moment-by-moment, life extends its hand to welcome us in. All we need to do then is to graciously accept that hand and enter into the sacred dance with life.
All throughout my life, every time I sincerely asked to participate in the miracle of life, life never failed to extend its welcoming hand. I've had to learn to stay awake, pay attention, and recognize the invitation for what it was in spite of the many guises in which it would come. Several times it entered my life dressed as a bright, young woman seeking an answer. Each time I accepted the invitation by giving that stranger a little communication, some compassion to let her be herself, she revealed afterwards that she had been on her way to kill herself. Instead, each of these beautiful souls chose to live and fulfill her purpose—all because someone took a few minutes to see her true light beneath the worldly avalanche of invalidation and isolation.
Many times the call came to me, too, in the form of dolphin songs, inviting me to join them in their play. Once, while driving in Hawai'i just as I was about to make a left turn toward my planned destination, I suddenly heard in my head their familiar, "K-k-k-k-k-e-e-e-e!" Then, they telepathically said, "Come to the bay, we're waiting for you!" Instead of driving to a sacred site so that I could map out directions for a group of my students, I was called to go meet a pod of wild dolphins. Of course, I immediately turned right and headed toward the bay to find them, exactly in the opposite direction from my original itinerary. When I arrived at the ocean's edge, I was met not by a reception line of dolphins but with crashing six-foot waves and the churning whitewater of the sea. Although I didn't see any of my cetacean friends in the water, I heard them clearly once again. They said, "Come in and play with us!"
Naturally, I declined the wonderful invitation with the excuse that I didn't feel like drowning that day. I did agree, however, that I would sit high up on the rocks beyond the ferocious fingers of the sea and meditate and commune with them in spirit. Even though it looked as if I wouldn't be able to swim with the dolphins that day, I felt joyful just being there spiritually with them wherever they happened to be under the sea. Then, moments later, I realized that a calm stillness had engulfed me. I opened my eyes and to my astonishment I stared into a placid blue pool in front of me. Then, I heard, "Now, will you come in to swim with us?" What happened to the raging seas? I didn't wait for an answer. Once I made sure that this quiet wasn't just a momentary hiccup in the storm, I donned mask, fins and snorkel and dove in. The dolphin reception pod then came to greet me and we swam in ecstatic abandon for the next three hours—until I had to return to the hotel to give my next seminar. As I bid adieu to my delightful marine friends, I asked them if they would care to join our group that I was taking out on a chartered boat the following morning up the north coast. "E-e-k-k-k-k-k-k-eeeee!" They answered. And, to all of our joy, they showed up en mass to swim with us the next day—miles away from the bay.
The time I heard the inner call to write my book, You Are the Answer, I said out loud, "Send me a publisher and I'll write it." Two weeks later a woman who came to see me as a first-time client from New York said out of the blue, "If you would write a book, I'll start a publishing company to publish it!" Although it turned out that she didn't start her publishing company, it got me started in writing my book—and, it got published.
No matter our situation or condition in life, I've always experienced that our true purpose is always within us calling to us every moment. All we need to do is to pay attention, graciously accept the call (even if it's a collect call!), and respond. Once we willingly respond, with gratitude, compassion, and a dash of enthusiasm, all will work out for the best.
A moment is all it takes for us to open to that divine life which is beyond our limited plans or even our greatest wishes. Unfortunately, however, more often than not we barricade ourselves within the fortress of our beliefs, expectations, judgments, and desires in our ignorant attempts to gain control, love, and security. However wonderful they may seem to be, our attachment to them closes the door on the limitless possibilities of treasures of which we may be the rightful heirs. If we can only allow it, we may discover that we are truly the beneficiaries of divinity.