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Remembering Makoto, 1998-2018

I‘d like to take a moment to honor a very special teacher of mine who recently passed away: a black leopard named Makoto, who lived at the CARE Foundation in Florida. He lived to be 20 years old, which is very old for his species, and pretty amazing, considering the neglectful and abusive circumstances he survived before coming to CARE. I am so thankful to Christin Burford of CARE for taking him in when no one else would. (Thank you Heidi Farmer Piccerelli for these amazing photos!)

I met Makoto just before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and during the year of my treatment and recovery, he was a strong source of strength for me as well as a special visitor in my daily meditations. Makoto was a true warrior, survivor and tremendously fierce. These were all qualities that I needed to access within myself in order to fight and win my own health battle.

When I first met Makoto, I recognized him from a dream I’d had before coming to CARE. Amazingly, when we he saw me he rubbed his head against the cage, purred and showed me his belly just like a kitty cat. Christin couldn’t believe it, he was so sweet with me! I believe we had lessons to teach each other: I had to learn to be fierce, and he had to learn to be gentle; and so, we helped each other to heal.

Once, when I was on a meditation retreat in the redwoods, Makoto appeared to me, turned, and ran into the forest. In my mind, I followed him and we ran together. At the time, I was in a lot of pain following my cancer surgery, and not able to move very easily. It felt amazing to feel myself jumping over logs and flying through the trees, following Makoto’s quick and easy lope. Then suddenly, all at once I found myself back in my painful body, meditating with the others, with Makoto sitting in front of me. My heart said to him, “I wish you could run free, just like that. I’m sorry you are in a cage.” His heart said to me, “We all have our cages, but don’t you know, we’re all free in this moment if we just look deeply enough!” He then showed me that my painful body was my “cage” just as his captive situation was his. And yet, just as we had just run so freely together, like the wind, no one could ever cage our spirits! In that moment I realized we have to only look deeply enough to see that we are always truly free and All is Well.

I always remember that moment with Makoto when I am with an animal or person who is suffering. I know that even in that moment of physical or emotional suffering, peace and freedom of our spirit is always present!

It was a true gift to my life to meet Makoto and to be able to have such a beautiful connection with him. He was also such a wise presence for my CARE Reiki students over the years. How wonderful that he was honored and valued as a teacher and healer in his lifetime, and now that is his legacy.

I am happy to know that the universe is now your jungle, Makoto. Run free! But still, I miss you…

For more stories about Reiki with CARE animals, CLICK HERE.

Please visit CARE and consider donating to support the amazing animals in their care.

Photos copyright Heidi Farmer Piccerelli.

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