The birds certainly were.
And the flowers
And a large bumble bee
seemed to be rather More Here Now than Joanna thought was really necessary. Suddenly - there was a lot of huffling and wuffling and swishing - and a large wet something flopped down beside her.
"Oh, Sage," Joanna gasped, scuttling sideways like a crab. "Oh, Sage, how could you? The grown ups will be FURIOUS."
Sage lay panting on his side. His long fair hair was caked in mud and burs, and he was mostly wet all over. His bright brown eyes beamed happiness and goodwill to all. Joanna groaned.
"They won't let you in the house, you know." Sage thumped his tail happily.
"Don't you understand what I'm saying?" said Joanna.
"They won't love you!"
Sage smiled and smiled. Of course they would love him. Everybody loved him. That's what he was for - to make people happy when they saw him, to remind them to love something. Sometimes it was more difficult than others to be sure. Sometimes the grown ups were rather peculiar come to think of it. Sometimes for example, they slammed the door in his face, when he would have liked to curl up in his bed under the kitchen table. But they always let him in in the end. He loved the grown ups! Just thinking about them made his tail wag.
"Love," he said to Joanna. "I love them. You love them. We all love them!" Joanna laughed. Sage always made her laugh. Opening up the heart center he called it - so the love-laugh could come out.
"Come on, Sage," she said, heading for the vegetable garden where her father kept a long green water hose. Sage bounced along behind her, he liked this game. He loved trying to catch the water as it came out of the nozzle. Joanna made the water go zig-zag all over the place. Most of it missed Sage altogether, but if they played long enough the mud usually seemed to just disappear.
Now for the bicycle. Sage liked this too. He raced along beside Joanna as she pedaled as fast as she could go down the long driveway toward the county road. They both knew the rules and stopped a nice safe distance from the traffic.
"Fun!" said Sage. "Good fun! Now what?" Joanna wobbled around in a half circle - and off went Sage, lickety split towards home.
"Cheat," yelled Joanna, "You're cheating! Wait for me," and she raced after him. They arrived back at the house more or less together, and as Joanna put her bicycle away Sage flopped down on the grass. She kicked his favorite rainbow colored ball past his nose.
Reluctantly, Sage raised his head. "Timing," he said, "is everything. There is a time to chase balls, and there is a time to rest." Joanna chased the ball herself -
and kicked it back the other way. Sage closed his eyes and stretched out in the summer sun: "And this," he said firmly, "is a time to rest."
It was Sunday and Joanna was lying on her bed reading. She would have preferred it to be Saturday, because Sunday today meant school day tomorrow. There was nothing she could do about it however.
"So we might as well just be here now," she told Stardust, who was stretched out beside her. Every time Joanna turned a page, she paused for a moment to gaze at him. He was so beautiful!
"Of course I'm beautiful," said Stardust. "I am a thought in the heart of my Creator, and all Her thoughts are beautiful!" Joanna smiled at the cat, he did stay the oddest things at times, but she was too polite to say so.
"Maybe you are not so polite," said Stardust. "Maybe you are afraid."
"Afraid?" echoed Joanna. "Afraid of what?"
"Afraid of change," said Stardust. "If you change something, you have to change everything, you know. Supposing you added four eggs to that chocolate cake you were making instead of three - you would have to change all the other ingredients too, wouldn't you?"
Joanna thought about this. Stardust was right, there was no getting away from it. If she didn't add more flour the cake would be too runny. And if she didn't add more chocolate it wouldn't taste chocolatey enough, and if she didn't get a bigger pan there would be a fearful mess. Oh, it was exhausting just thinking about it.
"Exactly so," said Stardust. "You see, it's much easier to pretend you're just being polite and then you don't have to pursue the matter. You can just stay stuck in your regular thinking patterns, and not even think about what your thoughts are."
Joanna wasn't sure what to say - or think. She had even forgotten how all this got started.
"You said I was beautiful," Stardust reminded her.
"Oh, now I remember," she grinned at him. "So if you're a thought in your Creator's heart - what are you doing here?" Joanna was pleased with herself, for once she had outsmarted Stardust she felt sure. Without even opening his eyes, Stardust replied.
"She breathed me out, and now She's dreaming me. And when she wants me back - why, She'll just breath me in again."
Joanna groaned. The animals always had an answer for everything it seemed.
"We are your teachers," said Stardust simply. "Animals are your teachers. Remember this always." Suddenly he rolled over and grabbed her hand. Fixing her with his beautiful green eyes his thoughts ran circles in her head:
"We carry the secret truths of All That Is. We reflect the memory of all you think you have forgotten."
Joanna wriggled her hand free. She leaned over and kissed the top of his head.
"Stardust," she said gazing at him adoringly, "you are the most divinely mysterious cat I have ever met in my whole life!"