Posted by: Zane Maser | January 11, 2010


Passing the two-week mark since Zoe’s death, many loving condolences have come our way. One postcard from a sweet friend in the currently frigid Midwest encouraged, “Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” (Psalm 96:6 KJV) We feel exceptionally supported by those who love us, all devoted animal lovers themselves who wholly understand the pain of physical separation and the barren moments without our bright, blue-eyed Zoe. Several have generously said that, “no cat kids on the planet have had better parents than you two!” We loved/love our kids! Love is not a chore; it’s pure heaven.

Nevertheless, time continues. Our new chapter is underway. These “first” steps or acts we’ll have to do only once. Thanks to our nearby friends, we are out and away from the house today for our first, short “trip” since Zoe died. A part of me feels newly released and excited about future possibilities, which were not available to us previously because we choose to be at home with the kids, especially with Zoe when she became an only child more than four years ago. In fact, we didn’t think she’d prosper as well as she did or live much beyond her mirror image, Bodhi, but she did, praise the Divine!

Yet another, uncensored part of me continues to ache intensely and would rather have our old life back in all the many joyful routines with Zoe—all the days and years we so happily, peacefully shared. This is my temporary, clinging stage of looking at life through the rear view mirror, through the lens of our cherished memories and pictures. I love the line in the movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” when the innocently imprisoned, Andy Dufrane, says out loud to his fellow inmate, Red, but really as an impetus to himself, “You either get busy living, or you get busy dying.” In our last chapter with Zoe, there was a great fullness of heart. Such bottomless contentment is the persistent state of homebody introverts, like Chris and me.


During springtime about five or so years ago, we had the enormous delight of seeing a song sparrow poking around our garden along the edge of our tall arborvitae hedge in the backyard. One of their jittery foraging behaviors is to move quickly back and forth among the leaves, checking for precious morsels of food. The typical habitat for song sparrows is on the edges of fencerows or shrubby vegetation. To our amazement, a pair of song sparrows nested in our hedge that summer, but sadly it was not enough of a sequestered hideaway with sufficient protection for both their nestlings. One did fledge. Although our beloved pair of song sparrows never returned to nest here, we happily dubbed our home and garden “The Song Sparrow Hermitage” from that summer onward.

A sanctuary, much like a hermitage, derives from the Latin sanctuarium “a sacred place, shrine,” the shorter Latin sanctum meaning “a holy place.”1 The Latin sanctum sanctorum “holy of holies” came to be used near the beginning of the 1700’s as “a person’s private retreat.” In 1568, however, the general, non-secular meaning ascribed to sanctuary was of a “place of refuge or protection,” whereas it came to be used as “land set aside for wild plants or animals to breed and live” in the 1900’s. As well, a hermit—originally known to be a person of the desert—resulted from eremia “desert, solitude.” An animal so named for its solitary habits is the hermit crab! For us, our Song Sparrow Hermitage is the small piece of holy ground entrusted to us and dedicated to our quiet, sacred, private daily rhythm within our home and outward in our garden.

A few years back, a neighbor, who shares our affinity for gardening, came over to get several plants we were donating to the beauty of her yard. As she came through the back gate and into our oasis of peace, she asked, somewhat startled, who that “grey tiger cat was.” Chris and I looked at each other, chuckling inside but also amazed; we replied it must be Bodhi! I went inside and got a picture of our strikingly gorgeous Bodhi to show her, and she said, “yes, that’s him!” Having never had such a spiritual experience in her life, she was clearly unnerved that she had been uncharacteristically able to penetrate the thinness of the veil between our outer and inner gardens. She said a quick “thanks and goodbye” and made a hasty retreat to the safety of her house! It was a wonderful confirmation for us that where there is love there is eternal presence and unity.

Mans’ essential being is inward, indivisible, spiritual,
and as such it derives its life and strength
from within, not from without.
Outward things are channels through which its
energies are expended, but for renewal it must fall
back on the inward silence.

James Allen

Almost without exception, the countless people who have come into the aura of our garden remark with a surprise, “oh, it feels so very peaceful in here,” despite the increasing background noise of the city. A white-haired lady some blocks away walks by relatively frequently with her two small dogs. If she sees us, she tells us once again, “when my sister comes up from Eugene, we always have to walk by your garden, because it’s her very favorite garden here.”

Perhaps in the wee hermitage we have created the past seventeen years, we have also established a vital center of peace and love, a radiating energy that moves out into the larger world that, in its own small way, helps to mitigate the rampant fear of uncertainty now so palatable everywhere. Every small, hope-filled contribution from each of us, in the end, makes a huge, qualitative change that lessens and eventually destroys the illusion of fear and separation. It is the daily legacy we are creating. The more peace and love each of us shares, the more peace and love automatically fills our lives. What we give we receive in like measure; what we receive we must again circulate for the highest, long-term good of all.

By the way, we had a great adventure today! Shared some laughs. Shared some memories of our animal kids. Shared hugs. Shared the present-moment joy with friends that truly matter! Abundant thanks, Carol, Dave, and Wednesday the dachshund, for your intuitive sensitivity to get us “out” and the golden generosity of your hearts!



Similar Offerings:

• Preparations for and A Guided Meditation (the inner garden of      imagination)

• Approach and Avoidance

• The “Quiet” of Introversion

• Spiritual Essence of Stabilitas

• Birdie Diner

• Gone Gardenin’

• Major Contentment Mode

• Silence Is Power

• Insignificant Significance


  1. Online Etymology Dictionary. (accessed on 10 January 2010).


Text and Photo © by Zane Maser, 2010. Photo of the song sparrow gratefully used from Wikimedia Commons. All rights of Zane Maser and SunnyCat Astrology reserved worldwide.

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My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.

If you are interested in an astrological consultation and/or a specific question answered by a horary chart, please visit SunnyCat© Astrology.

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