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.