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Cougar Medicine: A Lesson in Gratitude (part 2)

Published November 21st, 2018 in Community Perspectives

By Eric Muritz

My dear pet was gone; my peace-of-mind shattered. I work 6pm – 7am patrolling the Breitenbush grounds as security, and it took a month to shake the feeling that danger lurked around every dark corner. Moreover, the encounter proved a catalyst for me and my partner; the stress turned on us in a way we had not foreseen and she was not long in setting off on a different life-path. I was doubly heartbroken. We had been co-habitating for about a year and an half, and had seldom had problems prior. Rattled as we had been, our relationship seemed another casualty of the cougar.

The Summer Solstice Healing Retreat ceremony (a gathering attended by several hundred people) was taking place just three days after the cougar incident, and I was slated to give the keynote speech. I was pretty shaken-up by the sequence of events, and frantically considered that there might be something I was supposed to say–or not say. I doubted myself: my integrity and worthiness for the speaking part. My mind is one that wants to find causality in everything that happens. I had been preparing for the SSHR ceremony for weeks; to receive a visit from a cougar on solstice morning–what are the chances?? And so I looked deeply into what the message of this “cougar medicine” might be…but nothing came of it.

I gave my speech, as planned and without modification. Time passed. There was change and heartache, yet no answers came. Certainly nothing that explained my hardships.

Then, one night, I was walking through the community village and came upon an unassuming piece of paper. I picked it up and unfolded it. It wasn’t some complex message that explained what my cougar encounter was all about. Surely the cougar epitomized the unexpected and unpredictable workings of nature; I was letting go of the idea there had been a reason. Rather, what I had just read was a tool that helped me to deal with the aftermath–a lesson for coping with any loss; a reminder that there is a way to honor all we have, or ever have had, in life.

Expressing gratitude.

My life had changed, and is still changing–I can feel it! The cougar is taking me for a ride. Yet with every step forward, or backward, and in spite of any pain, a prayer of gratitude is due for the mercy bestowed upon me that Solstice morning. And a prayer of gratitude for all the good things & people that had ever come into my life.

Thank you, Beowulf.

Thank you, A.B.

Thank you, Breitenbush.

Thank you, Creator.

Timing is everything: being in the right space to receive something; quieting the mind so as to be able to truly listen to what someone else is trying to tell you. I wanted to say thank you to whoever dropped that poem, the words of which rang oh-so-true for me that night.

To be continued…