Winter appeared on December 21st, 1993 cold and snowy, chilled to the bone. He is a wondrous Being of Light who came out of the earth from under our deck and invited himself to dinner. His long, wild, Maine-Coon hair was stiff with frost. I studied my black & white ‘crouching tiger’ as his eyes bore into mine. He relinquished his gaze only to dart his eyes behind him and back a few times, assessing his plan of action. My heart stood as still as the frost on his fur, opened wide in friendship, filled with anticipation. In that sacred, golden moment when his eyes met mine, I knew Winter had come to stay.
“It’s O.K., honey,” I stated matter-of-factly, “you can eat our cat food – it’s ok, that’s what it’s here for!” I was filling Kitten-Little’s bowl outside when Winter surprised me. “Kitten-Little” had come to us in the Summer of ’83 – dropped on our doorstep at 6 weeks of age filled with fleas, broken teeth, and lots of love. Cats usually come to our home; we rarely go looking for them.
Winter crouched lower, then gracefully leaped onto the picnic table, next to my side. He crunched his food and let me stroke him gently. I realized this was the feral cat that had been hiding under our porch for over a month, “stealing” bites of food and dashing off into the night. After our physical encounter, Winter sniffed at my kitchen door, pawing to come in. Apparently he noticed it would be warmer inside, rather than outside, that sliding glass barrier.
Quinlan, our Golden Retriever, ran to greet him. Winter rubbed his body against her leg, sniffed, and licked her face. Quinlan responded in kind, instant camaraderie. Quinlan, my “assistant” psychotherapist since she was a puppy, helped my work in trauma recovery. Quinlan Shannon Murphy was a loving, gentle healer, who barked at my office door at a very young age, asking to come in. She would give her life for my clients, and not many clients declined her offer. She truly loved her job!
Maybe Quinlan swayed Winter’s decision; maybe our love affected him. Whatever the reason (despite Kitten’s ‘hissy fit’), he stayed to investigate, sniffing one room at a time, one day at a time, corner to corner, in military-on-the-belly, crouched-to-ground position. He raised his head and stood up straight when his inspection was complete.
“He’s a good, healthy, neutered male,” reported Dr. B., giving me my second shock of Winter. Neutered? Feral? This cat was one strange dude; interesting mixes of wild and tame. Winter commands respect. He has strong, sharp claws that keep one distant when he wants it, yet he’s never hurt a human. One soulful gaze into his eyes, and you may have a flash of intuition. Winter’s soul reminds me of my own.
It’s been seven years since we’ve been graced by Winter. For seven years he’s moved with us through our traumas and triumphs, settling into our new home on the mountain like King Lion claiming his throne. Winter chased away all ‘strays’ from his kingdom, and then found a new something to chase – he chases darkness from the Light. It seems to give him great pleasure, and gives “his” clients interesting insights.
Two years ago Quinlan retired from my business. Medical knowledge told me it was for her own good. After 9 years of sessions with traumatized clients, Quinlan was growing white and tired, getting grumpy before her time. We adopted a puppy to lighten her spirit, but a disgruntled old Quinlan did not go for her “token” early retirement present. She barked relentlessly when “her” clients arrived, nearly breaking my heart with each bark. It was Winter who came to our rescue, scratching at my office door as relentlessly as Quinlan’s bark. When Winter scratched, Quinlan became silent. I guess she knew her clients would be in safe “paws”.
Confident and assertive, Winter’s scratching signals your session could be honored by his presence, a sign that he has chosen you. From the first client who accepted his offer, Winter was magnetized to his job. Winter is quite different from Quinlan – he picks & chooses his clients, and his session time. Winter accepts a rejection from a client with quiet dignity. I believe he walks away knowingly. Barring allergies and sensitivities, most of my clients gladly let Winter grace them with his presence.
“What on earth is he doing?” a puzzled client questioned. Winter had jumped on her lap, and was “pawing” her chest. “Jane” was crying at that very moment, when Winter went straight for her hurting heart. Jane allowed Winter to continue his “kneading”, not paying much attention as she cried and worked through her issues. He kept pawing until she stopped crying, and then settled on her lap to sleep. She stroked Winter as she described her feelings, “He was helping me get rid of the sadness,” she kept saying, “he seems to really know what to do!”
When working with an eating-disordered client, Winter lay on her chest as she described her week’s eating habits. When she became nauseous, Winter jumped to the floor and vomited twice. Later, after reviewing the session, we realized the woman had worked on two early childhood memories – one at age four and one at age ten.
One client was stuck at an impasse, unable to move in a direction he desired. One day he allowed Winter into his session. Winter jumped on his lap, and began biting at his shoulder! Thankfully my client had on a thick sweater, but it startled him, so I sent Winter away. Winter probably understood why he was not retained for service, and did not resist his being put out. Later my client told me his medical advisor said he was “loaded with parasites”. I wonder what would happen if we were brave enough to allow Winter to ‘assist’ in his strange way?
I cannot always tell you what Winter is doing in my office; I can only tell you that it usually works. My clients can tell you of the loving energy they feel for and from our Winter, and oh, my Winter – if only he could talk! Well, Winter does speak in many ways, say many clients. “Listen” to this story, and let your intuition be your guide.
Today I worked with a young, sensitive adolescent. I might say a very psychic soul. She told me that while deep in her meditation, in her safe place inside her, she DID speak to Winter, and Winter spoke to her.
It was right before the end of her session when I asked what she was laughing at. She said, “Before I opened my eyes just now, I saw Winter, lying by the bank, like a sphinx, up on his paws. He had been sitting between us (her inner child & she) by the river through the whole session, helping us stay calm. When he lay down I said, ‘Thank you Winter’. And Winter said: ‘No problem, that’s what I live for.’ “We both laughed while we watched Winter, as he awakened from his nap by her side. As he gazed at us with those wide green eyes, we both knew deep inside, she heard the Truth.
Native Americans tell us animals bring medicine—it’s important to pay attention when an animal crosses your path. If you are lucky enough to be crossed by Winter, you will experience a Great Spirit by your side. I know Winter brings magic to our sessions; he helps move disturbing darkness into Peace-filled Light. I know my life was touched by Winter; he’s been the harbinger of delight!
We are blessed with our loving guardian, our dear Winter. He’s the Winter of our deep content. I believe Winter’s heart is filled with healing power, because Winter’s heart is filled with Love. And I know, long, long after Winter, his soft touch will still be found. In the land of Soul that is Forever, Winter’s touch is with us Now.
Note: Winter passed over in May, 2003. His authentic being touched many lives, even after his passing, and his love will be held in our hearts forever.