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  • Windwalker is a cougar who came into what appeared to be a spiritual state of beauty and gentleness as he reached a ripe old age. In his book Alzheimer’s Isn’t What You Think It Is, Elmer Green describes how statements of great spiritual wisdom came through his wife even as Alzheimer’s destroyed her physical brain and left her unable to speak for months. It was as if she were occupying two worlds at once, bringing glimpses from beyond. Perhaps as age weakens the grip of biological forces on the brain, a similar thing happens with all old creatures—humans and animals—allowing a connection with the larger life forces to blossom. When retreat participants met with Windwalker in his last year, he would purr the entire time. It was a deep, resonant purr that gave us the impression his purring was a healing offering. Diane, a retreat participant who suffered from an autoimmune disease, told us that she was telepathically called by Windwalker to visit Earthfire.

    Near the end of his days, Windwalker could no longer use his hind legs; he spent his time lying on his side. We gave him soft, clean blankets to lie on, and cleaned him as best we could. Knowing he would leave his body before I returned from a two-week trip, I went to him to say goodbye. He purred, looked at me, and then turned his head away as if to say it is done. A few days later when Jean checked in on him, he sensed that Windwalker’s end was near. Jean returned a few hours later and found Windwalker sitting tall and upright, magnificent even in his old age. He was looking up and out of his protected enclosure, gazing up at the sky. Windwalker was so lost in wherever he was that he didn’t hear Jean arrive, didn’t feel him approach until Jean touched him. Jean says Windwalker startled, as though he was suddenly reminded he had a body. As Windwalker got weaker, Jean lay down next to him. Windwalker purred and purred, although it grew weaker and weaker. At the end, Jean purred for him and held Windwalker in his arms as he took his last breath. Jean’s account reminds me of the stories I read about the dying in Final Gifts, a book by two hospice workers, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly. With a foot in both worlds, Windwalker behaved the way people approaching death often behave.

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    Click here to learn more about Earthfire Insitute.
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