Holding Space

I’d been looking forward all week to my friend and Sister Nan coming this weekend to do my hair with me. It seems frivolous, but living in a house of men, girl time is precious to me, so this was a big deal. However, it had to be postponed.

Nan gave me a ring when she got home because her partner had a very rare weekend off. They’ve been mid-reno for months, and alone there’s only so much anyone can do, so understandably, this shifted her priorities from fun to getting things done that had been waiting for a chance for them to happen. No biggy.

The call went from this bit of news to something more important. Nan and I are both nurses. We currently work doing different types of care, but we’ve both been doing this a long time and have a wide base of experience. Nan needed to talk about nurse-life to someone who’d get it and know how to hold the space a nurse needs when they just need to let it all out. We’ve both been there at times, and it is a treasure to know that if it just gets to the point of “peak-nurse” where you just can’t take the BS anymore, someone is there to listen and let all that drain away. Someone who knows there’s no quick fix to a systemic issue across the board. Someone who knows that we do what we do because it is needed and no one else wants to – or they would. Because in compassion we answer the call of Kourotrophos and provide succor where, when, and how it’s needed. BECAUSE.

And so I held space for my beloved Sister. For the one who has massaged the knots from my aching body with her expert hands, and who has been there for me when it’s too much and all I can do is scream or weep. Because that’s also what we do.

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Let none despair who call upon My name for succor!

The title of this entry is a line from The Charge of Hekate, which I wrote several years ago. It came to me today as a command from Einalia, my boss. I am pleased to rise to the occasion.

You see, I had taken my son to see a movie after some repairs were completed. Once the film was over, I checked my messages, and there was one from an animal rescue for whom I foster cats who have no place to go. I rehab them and love them back into adoptibility. This time, though, a different type of need came to me. A woman, needing to leave an abusive relationship, was in desperate need of a home for her cat. She had good reason to fear for the cat’s safety if she left without her beloved companion, but most shelters won’t allow one to bring pets unless they are service animals. So she was in effect hostage to her abuser of out fear for the safety of her kitty.

My first impulse was just to say yes. Bring the kitty, of course there’s room. However, sharing a home and life means sharing decisions like that, so I consulted my husband, who also said, yes, of course, the kitty can come stay as long as needed. It was a no-brainer for both of us. We both answer the call of compassion. In fact, almost all of our kitties have come to us through acts of compassion, starting with our first cat, Iko.

Iko was a handsome senior kitty who was caught in the middle of a bad breakup. When our friend Meg split with her boyfriend, the apartment she found didn’t allow pets, but the boyfriend said he’d take care of Iko. He lied. When she went back to their place to get some things she’d forgotten, she found Iko eating from the garbage. There was no food for him in the house, and he was obviously ill. So, as the only people in our circle of friends to own a home, we were appealed to to become his refuge. We took him in and got him to the vet. He had abscesses in several teeth and had developed diabetes from the infections. This fourteen year old cat had to have rounds of IV fluids, antibiotics, and a special diet after the infected teeth were extracted just to get him back into health. It was worth every penny. He bounced back within weeks and was lively as a kitten.

Iko lived another four years, receiving twice daily insulin, as well as being utterly spoiled. He lived long enough to not only see our son born, but nearly until his first birthday. He developed kidney failure at age eighteen, and he passed gently in my arms at the vet’s office. Iko’s entrance into our family set the precedent.

Today the call came again to help a cat in need of an escape from abuse, and in this case to help her owner also escape by knowing that her kitty will be safe. As a survivor of domestic abuse myself (long before I met my husband), this call was doubly urgent for me. And so another suppliant in need of succor is about to find shelter within our home. This is in its own way the most important functions of my calling as a priestess. Our home and the temple within will always shelter these feline suppliants. It is my sacred charge and my honor.