My cat Mookie came home this week. He’d been away for three and a half months on an adventure I can know almost nothing about.
Our search had gone through different stages of hope that gave way to fear as the time stretched. When finally we got the lead that took us to him, I found myself dreading the fear and heart break of another fruitless search.
I had already been through the intense beginnings of grief. I grieved because in many ways it was less painful than the excruciating work of nurturing hope in the midst of not-knowing. My grief let me rest in the experience of love and loss that felt vividly awake. I wasn’t sure that he was gone forever, but I had to let go my clinging. Sometimes I felt like I was betraying my friend, like I was giving up. But actually I hadn’t really given up looking, I had given up hoping.
The trap of hope is the fear that what I hope for won’t be realized. When I gave up hoping, I also gave up the fear of feeling deeply the loss of my friend. And in letting myself feel that loss, I opened to the experience of deep love that went beyond the desire to control the outcome. My experience of Mookie was not lost. I may not have had him in his body, but I will always have him in my heart.
When we found Mookie, it was shocking, it was tender, it still is. I can feel the voice of fear arising. What if I hadn’t got the call? How was he living out there alone for those months? What if I lose him again?
So again I practice letting go of the hope that I will know, that it will all work out a certain way. I practice resting in the vivid space of loving right now, and scratch his belly while I have him.