Place your hand on your heart.
Place your heart on the line.
Find your place in the great symphony of things, and tell me: do you have it all once-and-for-all-ed up?
Flash, arguably the most inappropriately-named cat in the history of Tabby’s Place, excels at misdirection.
Hear the name “Flash,” and you’ll expect a meteoric monsieur, superheroic in his speed and his shimmer.
What you’ll find, instead, is a plushy chenille couch. (And here I must note that we are in receipt of a letter of complaint from the International Federation of Sofas, Divans, and Miscellaneous Davenports, sternly noting that Flash is considerably slower-moving than the average settee.)
Hear the hulking hurgle-burgles hurtling from his throat, and you’ll conclude that Flash has Serious Problems.
What you’ll realize, instead, is that, although every living creature has Serious Problems, Flash is free of any dread disease. He just enjoys making noises that would make your average rhinoceros jealous. Somewhere deep behind those diamond eyes, he’s gloating over his guttural grunts and wishing everyone could glurk along in perfect harmony.
Behold the grey gloomp of a cat, lurching at the speed of oatmeal, and you’ll assume he’s a slumpy satchel of sad, the Lobby’s personal Eeyore in search of a tail or a tale or a trail of breadcrumbs leading to something like hope, if not home.
What you’ll learn, instead, is that Flash is perfectly content, a storm-colored, sludge-speed dreamboat with internal sunshine enough to light the sky.
I can neither confirm nor deny that, if you utter the words “rush,” “hurry,” or — perish the thought — “frenzy” in his presence, Flash will literally vanish in a zing of light (which is to say, melt into a pool of Cream of Wheat).
Flash is not much for utterances. Or urgency.
You and me, beautiful embattled bipeds, we’re different. While Flash, being a cat, is equal parts angel and oatmeal, you and I are stuck between dust and stardust. We sweat urgency. We race around the room with giant thumb tacks, desperate to pin everyone and everything down.
At our most desperate, we actually think we’ve accomplished such a feat.
And then someone’s tenderness or someone else’s meanness or the tide itself sweeps our sandy schematics out to sea.
Good thing, too: it’s only when you get far enough from the scream of civilization that you can see the meteor showers.
Flash will take us there, if we’ll trust our turgid teacher.
It turns out there are meteor showers nearly every month of the year. We only miss them because we’re so afraid to miss a moment, we’ve over-lit our very world. Even a town so one-horsey as Ringoes, NJ is far too bright, at all hours of day and night, to properly behold the soaring symphonies of comets that desperately want to party with us.
We think we need a certain sort of flash; what we really need is the cool, sweet darkness that’s more friend than foe, and that will give us permission to marvel and meditate and just marinate in the dizzying magic of life itself, if we’ll let it.
In the Christian tradition, we are presently in the front foyer of that great, mysterious season known as Lent. With ash-fragments fresh on our foreheads, we’re standing on the edge of a canyon called Surrender, faced with a sky of choices.
Will we impatiently light all the cold white flourescents because we can’t wait for the stars to appear?
Will we race and rampage and rip the seams out of our sofas searching for answers that only answer to their own calendars?
Or will we trust that today is total in its enoughness, and we’re enough, too?
Will we behold our own belovedness, and let it hold us and enfold us and put all our whirling on hold?
Will we be Flashy in our just-for-today trust, delighting in daily bread rather than clamoring for the Costco-sized case of certainties, certain that we’re just as worthy as one walrus-grey sofa-cat?
We are, you know.
Whatever our speed.
Whatever our contradictions.
Whatever swirling mixed drink we may be on this particular day in history: hope and despair, saint and snapdragon, iron man and tin man, lion and coward, peace and panic.
Flash, being pure cat, has no idea “who he is” or where he’s headed. But he knows he’s held, knows his worth, and knows that peace is the pace that plugs his little largo light into the great Sun of sweetness.
May that Sun slow us and grow us all into a field of stargazer lilies.
And may the meteors themselves see us flashing forth.