Thursday, April 23, 2009

Loving the Cat From Hell

There's a quirky story entitled "Bananacake" in February's The Sun magazine. The author, Sparrow, recounts the tales of his family pet, a white rabbit named Bananacake. He speaks of a spiritual guru who advised him to provide "service to animals."

The story reminded me how we are interconnected with animals. Our pets impact us - even those which seem to have little value, for we have taken them into our care.

This morning I was petting the cat I hate. See, we all kind of hate Molly. My husband, Paul, calls her the Cat from Hell. She's sixteen, and cranky as the dickens, mewing constantly unless she's held. Sometimes she'll even cry loudly at our bedroom door at 4 in the morning. Half of our family is allergic, and at times our eyes tear and noses run. Her long, luxuriant fur, which we once admired, sticks in the fibers of our clothes, gummies up the washing machine - even clings to the window panes and the microwave door. We didn't always hate Molly, and I started wondering what to do about it.

I thought about finding her a new home. Then I remembered the skinny old cats staring from their cages the last time I visited the animal shelter. What I came to see - and it sounds kind of corny - is that I have a commitment to this kitty for when she's enjoyable and when she's not, when she's young and adaptable, as she once was, or old and demanding. Molly is my tiny object lesson for loving - even if that means ignoring cranky sounds or using the lint brush for the third time in a day. So, this morning, when I took her in my arms, I loved her much more than I hated her. I stroked the sparse white hairs of her chin and spoke kindly. When we love the unloveable - even a cat - we become love in a small way. We are being the love-bringers God created us to be . . and it's so right and happy a feeling. It becomes easier to do, for the joy.

There will be many chances in my life to love the unloveable - and indeed there have been these chances already. I see much room for improvement. I'm reluctant to settle down to loving, knowing I'll get nothing out of the bargain except a linty sweater and a continued earful of meowy complaints. But the love - the love! In whatever direction it runs, to me or through me, it is just as wonderful. For the sake of simply loving, it is worthwhile.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beyond Belief: David Wilcox

David Wilcox reminds us there is more to the spiritual life than living in our own "theological gated community." He points out, Jesus would be anywhere but inside those tidy gates.

It bears repeating: "Faith can't be a fortress arrogant with pride/come walk here beside me with the humble ones outside."

David Wilcox is one of wisest songwriters I know, who understands what it means to live a creative spiritual journey.

Are you living inside or outside those gates?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Face Talk

"Bless, O Christ, my face,
Let my face bless every thing."

An ancient prayer from the Celts, collected by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Where Have You Seen God?

Eight or nine years ago, when I worked for First United Methodist Church, Pastor Edsel used to gather the staff round the Conrad Room table every Wednesday noon. He'd start our meeting by asking, "Where have you seen God this week?" One by one, we'd share a conversation, a movie, an event, a story, a joke, a surprise - anything we felt or noticed that reminded us of God's presence. The funny thing was, I began to think about the question earlier and earlier every week. I'd review the days, realizing that so many ho-hum, ordinary things were really those moments of seeing the Creator. If I hadn't been asked the question, I wouldn't have captured, noticed, or shared those encounters.

So I ask you. Where have you seen God this week?