CHAPTER 2 – ANOTHER EARTH ANIMAL
At this memory, the cat woke up suddenly and so did the saints. All of the heavenly angels and saints, who had watched the memory, were startled by the abrupt awakening of the cat. The cat was obviously anxious and upset and began prowling in a circle meowing with annoyance. This prompted all the heavenly viewers to disappear and leave the three alone. The saint knew that in Heaven you were never really alone because just like they could view the memories of the cat, other people could always view what happened to them. Heaven was a place of stories and at any moment you could catch up with a story by dropping in to see it happen.
Standing at the Gate of Heaven, the saints thought this was going to be their lucky moment to go back to Earth. They pushed a buzzer and the gate came alive with a big smile saying, “St. Francis and St. Dominic and the cat seeking permission to leave Heaven.”
A deep voice said, “Open up while I check this out.” The gate opened itself and revealed St. Peter sitting in a boat, but it was an unusual boat. It had wings and was hovering above the stairs that continued down disappearing into the distant horizon.
“Pete, how are you,” said Dominic.
“Busy, of course. The traffic between Heaven and Earth has suddenly increased.” The saint, dressed like a fisherman working on the docks, stared at the cat. “I think we know who is responsible for that.”
The cat sat there licking its fur ignoring the saint.
“Jump into the airboat,” said St. Peter. “Don’t be worried. It is the latest model to come out of St. Joseph’s Workshop. I heard Leonardo Da Vinci had a hand in its design.”
St. Dominic picked up the cat and jumped into the boat. St. Francis, who was familiar with boats of many sizes and shapes, stepped eagerly onto the airboat.
“Where are you taking us? To Earth?” he said.
St. Peter laughed and said, “We aren’t going that far. We have to pick up a passenger at the Arrival Point. He took hold of the wheel that steered the boat, and the airboat zoomed off flying above the steps heading away from Heaven.
“Let’s give the cat a quick tour as we go,” said St. Peter. “I know that he is more interested than he looks.”
The cat realizing that Peter was correct. Stood up and walked to the edge of the airboat and jumped up onto the railing to look out at the many interesting sights that the boat was passing.
“Over there is Storyland,” said St. Peter. He pointed to a location that looked like a map of the Earth. The map showed the location of many wonderful places. The saints could see the entrance to Camelot alive with towers and colorful flags and the opening to the Land of the Arabian Nights looking like an entrance to a magical cave. They flew past a high mountain that St. Peter said was, “Olympus.” As the boat passed overhead of the mountain, St. Nicholas flying in his sleigh said, “Glad to see you out and about. Christmas is coming and I’m gathering presents for everyone.” The saints and the cat smiled. Everyone loved St. Nick. They waved as he flew away.
“The wonderful things that humans imagine are not lost,” said St. Peter. “When something good is created, it finds its place in the environs of Heaven.”
“To the left, you can see the distant mountains of Purgatory,” continued St. Peter. The cat jumped to the opposite rail and Dominic and Francis leaned over the sides. At a distance they could see a majestic range of mountains.
“Didn’t it used to be a single mountain?” said Dominic.
“Things change,” said St. Peter.
“Mat’s might,” said the cat.
St. Peter maneuvered his boat to land in a great valley that spread out from the mountains. From above, they could see a road coming out of a pass between two of the highest peaks. The road was filled with people, who were leaving Purgatory. Standing in the valley were many of the citizens of Heaven waiting there to welcome the new arrivals. St. Peter positioned the boat so they could watch the path coming out of the mountains. Before long they could see something bounding fast down the path, passing rapidly by the people.
“Look, it’s the dog, the dog from the cat’s memory,” said St. Francis.
The dog below them could see them and could probably smell them because he stopped right below the airboat and jumped in the air barking. He was so excited that he ran back a few feet and then running forward taking a big leap into the air. As if carried along by some unseen force, he jumped high enough to leap over the railing of the boat. As he did that he knocked the cat onto the airboat’s floor.
“Must mike old mimes,” grumbled the cat landing on his feet.
The dog ran over to St. Francis jumped on him licking his face.
“Down,” said St. Francis and the dog still very excited sat down, his tail pounding the ground.
“Wait, I know that dog. He is the dog in my dreams,” said Dominic.
“I know that dog to. My mother drew a picture of him that she showed me,” said St. Francis.
As if anticipating their need, chairs appeared on the deck for them to sit down while one of St. Francis’ memories opened up like a living painting in the air. The cat jumped onto St. Dominic’s lap. The dog sat at St. Francis’ feet. St. Peter steered the boat back to Heaven as St. Francis remembering meeting the dog.
The memory showed a cave high in the hills in a village outside of Assisi. The cave was lit with many candles and men and women and children processing into the cave to see some of their fellow villagers reenacting the Birth of Jesus. The scene included many animals standing with a woman playing Mary and a man playing Joseph watching a baby who played the part of the baby Jesus. St. Francis stood off to the side with other monks smiling proudly. This was the moment when one of his special ideas had become reality. He had imagined a Nativity scene and here it was on this Christmas Eve reminding people of the humble beginnings of the child, who was also God.
“One of mour metter mideas,” said the cat.
“Thank you, “ said St. Francis, “But I think I realize now that someone had sparked the idea.” He pointed to the Christmas scene before them and, lo and behold, sitting in the rocks near the manger was the dog.
“One day I was praying and this dog ran up to me and licked my face, barking playfully. When he did that I had an imaginative intuition. I was seeing the birth of Jesus. I must have been seeing the memory of the event brought to me by this dog. I then wanted to recreate what I had seen and so I set about making the first Nativity scene. Somehow this dog was in Bethlehem and latter he was In Italy with me.”
Dominic laughed. “He must have been busy. My mother said she dreamed that a dog jumped from her womb, turned and barked at her. She had a sense something wonderful was coming. I was born soon after. She drew a picture of the dog and the picture looked just like this dog.”
Dominic looked at the dog and the cat. He laughed, “These two creatures get around.”
The dog barked twice licking St. Dominic’s hand. He jumped in the air and did a somersault to show how excited he was to be at the Arrival Point to Heaven with the saints and the cat.
“More madventure mahead,” said the cat.
To be continued…