Cats are exquisitely skilled creatures.
They are gifted at acquiring fish mush and veneration.
They are talented at adapting to change.
But they are arguably at their best when finding nooks.*
On first blush, this would appear to be just another Cute Cat Antic. Awwwh, look — she found a box! He burrowed in a blanket! She filed herself on the bookshelf! Cats are so dang darling!
Don’t underestimate the cute: they are a legion of life coaches, if we have eyes to see. Let’s see.
Every cat — even an enormous individual like Elijah — is really a smallish creature. We human beans tower over them; reality unfolds several stories over their heads; the world itself is a vast gaping mystery.
What to do when the universe is large?
Find the sacred small.
I’m convinced this is the wisdom that drives a cat to a cubby, a kitten to a tissue box, and — in our wisest moments — a you or a me to a warm little cranny under a blanket or in a sunbeam or beneath a sheltering tree. We are tiny too, fragile, at the mercy of something far stronger and stranger and more wonderful than we are.
Fortunately, mercy is abundant. And mercy provides us with no shortage of nestling-nooks.
I will be the last person on earth to judge you if, today, you crawl into a large Amazon box for a nap. These are wonky times; do what comforts.
But most of the time, the cats’ cubby-wisdom will send us to nooks of another nature. Nooks come in many varieties.
A phone call with your Mom is a nook.
A very long, very hot shower is a nook.
A letter you choose to write to a widow you know is a nook.
A slice of buttered rye toast is a nook.
A daily discipline of prayer is a nook.
Saying “no” and saying “yes” can both be nooks.
You’ll know your nooks when they find you. They come to us gratis, which is good news, since we’re all beggars for strength and solace. Rest assured the great Mercy that holds the world will provide you with warm safe spaces, day by dizzying day.
And if that Amazon box thing works for you, let me know. I’m always in need of nooks.
*They are also unspeakably good at beatboxing, analyzing the yield curve, and translating Ancient Near Eastern codices from Ugaritic, but they don’t talk about these skills too often.