Sunday, September 6, 2009


Years ago there was a man who loved a cat. I got to know them both rather well. Or so I thought. I was there through the cat's last days as she succumbed to kidney failure and old age. I helped nurse her along, admiring her stoic spirit, marveling at the love between the animal and human. I felt humbled and honored to witness such a strong and unconditional bond. I was there when it was time to break that bond as well; when it was time to let her go from this world to the next. With one last injection, one last sigh, she was gone and we were all there watching this man as his heart broke, alone in his misery, alone in a way that not one of us could reach him...
Later I attended a funeral for her, my husband came along and read a poem. We buried her in the animal graveyard and again I watched as this wounded man sat and cried. Another link slipped into place. I was called to help. I was being led to be a therapist. To walk among the wounded, to ease their pain and suffering. To try to break through those walls of grief, fear, loneliness to help heal. He and his cat were not the first link in the chain of broken hearts that have led me, sometimes pulled me onto this path, but they were two of the most memorable links.

A few weeks ago at the dog park with Jake, I listened to the glorious baying of a beagle mix. I have a weakness for baying as opposed to barking. There is something about a baying dog that sounds soulful and soothing all at once to me. It reminds me of cool fall nights, persimmons, leaves crunching and the first fire in the old black stove. As we were leaving, I saw the old beagle mix trundling along near us, and I stopped to compliment his voice. The man with him said "Martha?" and I looked into the eyes of the man who had been such a long ago link. It had been over 10 years, but he remembered me. We started chatting, and discovered both our lives had taken some pretty major hits. He had adopted this dog the day before he was going to be euthanized, same as Jake. We talked about other things. He had been through a lot since the last time I talked with him. He had written a book, and gave me a copy. I couldn't put it down later that night when I read it. It made sense to me: why our paths had crossed so many years ago, and maybe why they were crossing again. He had discovered he had a diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder . Now, I work with kids with Aspergers disorder and it seems very fateful that someone like him had started me on a path that led to kids who had experienced what he had once experienced. And it took me 10 years to finish my degree, start the work before I found him again and could thank him. I finally got to tell him that he had made a difference in my life. Actually, not just in my life, but in the lives of kids he would never meet. By our paths crossing years ago, hopefully the future will be brighter for kids like him.

This is why I believe in destiny, kismet, fate, God. No one but a higher power could plan these things. Sure someone could say it was all coincidental, but I choose to see it as more than that, as part of a bigger plan, as the truth of we all matter, we all have a reason for being, we all are linked by the divine. We all are part of the incarnation of the Christ. In each of us, no matter how wounded, how battered, bruised and broken there is a tiny shard of God, reflecting and beckoning, shining out a light that calls one to another, that draws us together out of the darkness of our world. A light that heals. A light that shines dimly, but still shines over the years, over the miles and through the tears...

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