Friday, June 19, 2009

A Wonderful Book - MY CAT SAVED MY LIFE

I just finished one of my all-time favorite books!

My Cat Saved My Life is a lovely short book about a man who, at a time in his life of great depths of depression and despair, takes in a stray kitten, whom he names Alice, and the remarkable relationship that develops between them. Every once in awhile you find an author who has such an exquisite way with words that the story is ALIVE on the page. Phillip Schriebman is one of those authors.

One of the reviews of the book at says: “The author, while ostensibly telling a story about his cat, very eloquently delves into the ultimate question of the mystery of being. This is a very spiritual book, written almost like a poem. A gem. A rare treat.” TR – Colorado

This is a meditation on life and death, and the exquisite mystery of being in Creation. I loved it. It is arranged in short chapters of one to 4 or 5 pages, so there are lots of good stopping places if you only have a few minutes to read. They are like fascinating little short films in the lives of Alice and Phillip. Below are a couple of excerpts I particularly enjoyed….

This picture is of an actual kitten named Alicia who is available for adoption at the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, UT, which is just an amazing place and a fabulous story in itself. (Thank you, Pati, for introducing me to Best Friends.) I visited Best Friends last summer on the way home from the Dance camp I went to, and I was awestruck. If you ever get a chance to go there – DO! It’s huge and beautiful and they do amazing work there.

From Chapter 16, Cat Talking:

And purring was a language that Alice spoke to me. When she sat on my lap and let me know that life was good and we were pals, the engine in her throat and chest would sing like a pump house. I didn’t have to guess if she were having a good time; Alice broadcast her enjoyment of the situation. But her purring was not confined to communicating with me.

She purred sometimes just sitting in the sun; I would come upon her like that. This is how I realized that cats appreciate the world when they are in it. Their actions were not only those of defense and survival. Part of Alice’s time was spent simply enjoying being alive. Her purring was a kind of prayer being sent out into the universe, a joyful song praising the wonder of living.

From watching Alice, I began to understand a little of what the Kabbalah meant by Creation. It was not only a place and the concept of that place; it was also the experience in that place. It was a way of being, the way. “Creation” was the experience of being, of living totally in the immediacy of the moment (time) and the spot (space) where you were. That was what Alice did for those moments in her spots of contemplation. She was experiencing Creation with all her energies.

Chapter 28, The Cat’s Hymn:

And the cat sings: “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”
~The Legends of the Jews, Louis Ginzberg, The Jewish Publication Society, 1909.

Some of you may remember the Dance of Universal Peace that Daniel in Prescott likes to lead… Kol HaN’shama, tihalel Ya, Allelujah, which Daniel translates as “All Beings that breathe sing God’s name.”

"All of the animals except man know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it." ~Samuel Butler
"If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them, you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear. What one fears one destroys." ~Chief Dan George

No comments: