Love and Freedom

by Michael McGinnis

My cat has been with me for about 8 years now, but I don't "own" him. He is a free citizen, with the liberty to come and go as he pleases. Usually in the winter time, when there is snow on the ground, and whenever it is below -10C he chooses to be an inside cat. I hold the door open for him invitingly he sniffs the cold air and disdainfully turns away. He stays inside for the full dish and the warm place to curl up. But I always give him the choice. Along about a sunny day in March he starts his return to the great outdoors. He graciously allows me to doorkeep for him, and let him go out and come in as he chooses.

At times he has chosen to take off for a few days I don't know where he has gone, or if he is coming back. But as a living creature he has the right to make his own decisions, and if there is a bond of love between us, he will return. Any creature, or any person, that we love deserves the same freedom of action that we want for ourselves. It is a part of human nature to want to keep those you love close to you. But it is the higher part of love to let them go free.

Any two beings who love one another have links that keep them together in some way. A highlight of my cat's day (and mine too) is going to bed. There is a nightly ritual I pet the cat, and he walks on my chest in his way of declaring affection, or possibly his ownership of me. I am more sure than ever that his affection is genuine: for the last couple of months I have been cooking at home more and more often, and he (almost) always prefers what I have cooked to cat food. An indirect compliment about my cooking, but one I am happy to accept!

Connections of love do not weaken with distance or with time. Sometimes when I have been away for several weeks in the summer on vacation, I have left the cat outside to be fed by neighbours. When I get to Stewart Crossing on my way home, I see my cat in my mind and think "OK kitty cat, get ready, here I come!" and feeling how great it will be to see him again. A number of times my neighbours have scarcely seen the cat for weeks, but he is right there in the driveway when I pull in.

The most wonderful creations of the human heart are those made with love. It is love that endows all outstanding literature, poetry, art and music with greatness. Just as it does the bond of friendship between a person and a cat. No wonder that love, the universal force, will inevitably draw those who share it, back together again, whether across thousands of miles or even lifetimes. The principle is the same between animals and people, or between people. When you think of someone you love who is far away, you are really with them. And the freedom that you give to others is repaid by the realization that distance is less true than love. The master force, love, can conquer time and distance, showing them for the illusions that they are.

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