Globally, religions of every sort have a shared concept of places that are deemed holy. There are churches, groves, synagogues, mosques, dells, rivers…myriad spaces that at some time in history for some person or group have been treasured, even revered. Believers of various faiths build and seek out such sacred spaces where they can connect, be it with each other, saints, or prophets, or to simply find quiet space within themselves.
Regardless of affiliation and even for those lacking any particular belief, sacred spaces exist and are at the core of our humanity. Secular sacred spaces are transcendent and necessary too. These are the spaces where we can come together to serve a purpose, to heal ourselves, or to help others. These are spaces that give back beyond what efforts we put in. Tabby’s Place is exactly this kind of sacred space.
Granted, when a cat like Hips (it was exactly Hips) submits a motion to the board to change his diet to 47% sardines, 30% spray cheese, 12% bologna, 9% lasagna, and 2% crunchy treats, Tabby’s Place seems more silly than sacred, but there is nobility even in such nonsensical things (Dr. Seuss would support me on this).
Silly is Hips’ purview. He shows off and bounds around, begs for attention – often getting more than a cat’s fair share (never enough) – and annoys Olive (Despite appearances, not a big Hips fan!) with his, shall we say, effervescence. If it weren’t for the outward sign of at least one serious issue (cats’ tails are not cropped without cause), it would seem that Hips never had a care in the world. It is the sacred space of Tabby’s Place that has provided this sweet, gregarious handful of a cat with the healing hands and hearts that have made him so bold as to consider himself a trustee (we barely have the heart to tell him he isn’t one…yet). Given his history of hijinks and current state of total lobby takeover, it’s safe to say that Hips has the ridiculous aspect of sacred well covered.
And, where there is the ridiculous, there must also be something to balance out the scales. Symmetry is provided by sublimity. For such, we turn to a cat like Beckett (okay, exactly Beckett). We’re not talking sublime on the order of Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett. After all, Beckett’s being a cat makes him far superior to any human being, no matter how laudable that being may be. That is to say, Beckett will not be writing often-staged plays or anything else with pen and paper (he would eschew both the quill-parchment and the keyboard-screen combinations too). Yet, with every visit and very gentle coaxing to get Beckett to come forward from his safe space to share space with a person, he etches himself deeply into each heart and every hand held out to him. Beckett, simply put, is gentle and cautious, sweet and, in his way, brave. He is the embodiment of the sublime aspect of what is sacred.
Without belaboring the point (too much more), from the absurd to the noble, Tabby’s Place is exactly the place where cats without forever homes have a sacred place where they can live out their lives. For the people whose efforts create far more than a shelter and so much more than a mere animal sanctuary, Tabby’s Place is a sacred place. It’s a place where the shared purpose of caring for cats is the glue that brings and holds a community together. It is a space that provides healing for cats, all the while healing the healers. To outsiders, this may seem ridiculous, but I assure you that it is exactly sublime.