Flame enough

Flame enough

Public service announcement.

For the wretched of the earth, there is a flame that never dies.


So how’s your week, kittens?

I hope you’re wending through the wonder and the wretchedness with grace and peace and even a little bit of style. But I see you and feel you if you’re not.

We are in the doldrums/regression phase of our dear little global pandemic. Lebanon is rupturing. Dams are bursting. Elephants are mysteriously dying. People are risking their lives to see Smash Mouth. Home and away, aches and fears and very urgent needs are going unmet. Hunger. Housing. Hope. Fire.

And in 2020, we see it all.

We are unable to be unaware of the full sphere of misery. Even the most committed Luddite, far from the ravages of social media, hears too much to handle.

Cotton, child of Lebanon

In this age of glorious, overwhelming connectedness, the global is the personal. A hundred years ago, our little band of weirdos at Tabby’s Place would have never had the privilege of knowing and loving the good people and animals at Animals Lebanon. It’s thanks to the infernal internet — even and specifically social media! — that we’ve come to know and welcome Cotton, and Topache, and Twister, and Gogi. It’s thanks to 2020, in all its 2020-ness, that our lives have become inextricably interwoven with some of the bravest humans in Beirut. They are our friends; they have become our family.

Our Beirut kin (four-legged and otherwise) are OK this time around. But life struggles to stay OK in Beirut. We are all the way over here, and they are all the way over there, and cats and humans are wailing for our love on every corner of every continent.

We cannot save every Cotton.

And so we can find ourselves, on a sunny August Saturday, paralyzed, pondering how we can possibly do enough.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t sew Beirut back together.
I can’t find every broken Brenda on every street and bear them back to Tabby’s Place in my arms.
I have small, limited hands and spindly fingers.

It’s easy to feel like I did when I first had to choose a major in college. (“Choose early, choose often!”) I distinctly, somewhat embarrassingly remember sighing to my Mom at the kitchen table, “But how can I be sure I’m doing the most for the downtrodden?”

I was going to be a pediatric trauma doctor. I was going to be a family court judge. I was going to be a chaplain. I was going to rewrite the wrongs of the world.

By some providential hilarity, I ended up a Development Director at a cat sanctuary. Right where I belong.

And I have to believe, even on weepy Saturdays, that it’s enough.

The cats and the humans (very much including you) remind me of the mysterious enoughness of giving what we have, to the ones we’ve been given. We empty ourselves in our limited love, and we see it expand. We pray and we work.

We can’t save every single one.
But we can save Mitzi, and Brenda, and Tempura, and, in some way I will never understand, one another.

For the wretched of the earth, there is a flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.


And, rather than one great, glorious glowing egg yolk popping up over the horizon, it will rise in fits and feisty starts. It will rise in your choice to listen to That Friend yet again; it will rise in my diverting my latest Amazon desire to a donation where it’s needed; it will rise, tickling flame by shy spark, in our making an act of will to listen to each other, even when it’s infuriating, especially when it’s infuriating.

It may not be grand. For most of us, it won’t be.
But it will be enough.

Remember, in these heart-scouring days, who you are, kittens. You are the light of the world. You are simultaneously the wretched of the earth. You have big, strong, good hands that are also delicate, and limited, and in need of other hands to hold. We are the uplifters, and we are the downtrodden. We need each other’s tender care, and also our own.

And for this, God has given us cats, and chenille blankets, and one another.

Do what you’re asked, in this hour, this moment. Receive what you’ve been given. Rest. Hope. Never stop scanning the sky for sunrise.

It will be enough.

1 thought on “Flame enough

  1. I sometimes find it strange but wonderful to think of Beirut – and many distant countries – all connected together by love of cats, even when it seems that governments cannot find peaceful connections. There are cat sanctuaries and individual stray cat lovers all over the world. Even though the word for “cat” is not the same in all languages, it seems that the love for cat is.

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