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The Critter Trail of Light

The Digman

The Digman

Whenever I hold a Reiki class I always invite students to share their true life Reiki stories, which are always inspirational for the teacher as well as the students. On this particular occasion everyone was deeply moved by the beautiful story that Joel Eide told about his relationship with Digger the cat. We all begged him to write it up so that it could be enjoyed by a larger audience.

Thank you, Joel, for allowing me to share this with others!



I lost my only cat a few months ago—Digger was his name—fondly referred to as “the Digman” by those who knew him well. It’s hard to believe that when he showed up in my backyard twenty-two years ago that we would spend a third of my life together—and all of his—but I’m told those orange tabbys are tough as nails and have an iron constitution to boot.

The first time I saw him he was running through the cornrows in my garden. I have to admit I was smitten. I’ve had cats throughout my life and had seen them get stuck in trees but this little guy would race up an old lilac tree we had in back and then race back down again. Then he would get on the ground and throw dirt between his legs—like he was a dog digging for a bone—hence the name Digger. It was the funniest thing. I could tell he was looking for a home and doing his best to make a favorable impression.

I have no idea how old he was the day he arrived but after spending an afternoon entertaining me with his most unusual antics I finally offered him a bowl of milk, which he promptly put his whole face into and came up sputtering. Obviously he hadn’t learned to lap milk from bowl yet. So that’s about how old he was.

Well that was the beginning. As my wife is allergic to cat hair he couldn’t be an indoor cat so I made him a bed on a wicker “Papa-san” chair under the covered patio. It was out of the weather and complete with blankets that he would snuggle into. It also had a heating pad that I could plug in when it turned cold. In his later years I would bring him in on winter nights so he could curl up by the woodstove, resting nicely on his own “special bed” but he preferred to be outdoors. He’d never been to the vet, or had as much as a flea collar for that matter, but he lived just fine among the other wild things.

I have put out food for the wild critters all my life and when Digger arrived there was actually a “critter trail” that wound it’s way from the woods out back, passed a mossy stone wall, around some blueberry bushes and through the yard, right up to the “feeding station” located on the patio. The abandoned, stray, and feral cats, generations of mama raccoons with their kits, opossums with their young, and of course all the domestic neighborhood felines—including Digger—all used the trail.

When I first learned Reiki I was excited to share this incredible gift with the Digman, but he wanted nothing to do with it—coming through me anyway. Even when he was sick and I might try to “sneak it in on him” he’d find a way to squirm out of my lap so I finally quit offering—or should I say quit forcing it on him.

Four years ago or so he started vomiting his canned food so I began cooking for the old guy. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs—that was his favorite! The home cooking kept him going but you could tell he had more life behind him than he did up ahead. He was eighteen after all.

Then in July of this year he took a turn for the worse and I knew it was a matter of time. I moved his bed under the desk in my office and he seemed quite content to just sleep and eat. He still had enough in him to walk the Critter Trail though, and on occasion I would see him heading out to the wild beyond.

On the day he passed some of the other cats came around to pay their respects. I left him outside until it was dark, then brought him up to the office where we began the vigil. About midnight, or shortly thereafter, he became fidgety, and for the first time showed signs of discomfort.

I had recently learned how to build a “bridge of light” using Reiki, so using the first three symbols I built him one in hope that he would be encouraged to let go and cross over. However, in the realm of spirit, I could see that the bridge was way out of scale. It was more of a people bridge—not a cat bridge. I could see that Digger was confused and didn’t know what to do. Then it hit me—I should build him something he was familiar with—so I built a “critter trail of light” instead.

Every blade of grass along the path shimmered with golden light. Even the blueberry bushes and the stone wall were shimmering light. No sooner had the trail of light been constructed than Digger stretched both front and back legs out as far as he possibly could, gave two short grunts from the depth of his being, slipped out the top of his little body—and was gone.

When I looked back into the realm of spirit there he was, walking down the critter trail of light. He stopped at the golden blueberry bushes and turned to look back over his shoulder, then with a quick flick of his tail he kept on walking, out to the great beyond. It was the one and only time he accepted Reiki from me. Thank you, Reiki!

Even now, some five months later, I get teary-eyed writing this. Perhaps I didn’t give myself enough time to grieve, but I think more than anything I realize now what a good teacher and loyal friend he was all those years. How he showed me things about myself that I was blind to, and through all my periods of dysfunctionality he continued to love me without condition. In particular he taught me about anger issues and impatience, and for that I’m eternally grateful. He was a good boy, he was the best boy—he was the Digman!

Today he’s buried in a corner of the raised planting area supported by the stone wall where he has a commanding view of all of the critters as they wind their way along the trail. Over the top is planted a delphinium with its beautiful, perennial bluebell-like flowers. I can hardly wait to see what kind of blossoms there are come spring.

~Joel Eide, Reiki Practitioner


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©2013 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.

Think Outside the Cage

About Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing:

In private practice since 1996, Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing, is a mesa carrier in the Peruvian shamanic tradition, animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, author and artist. As an animal shaman she views her mission as one of building bridges between people and animals through healing sessions, classes, ceremonies and events such as A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild.

Rose’s book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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