It’s the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.
It’s the eve of Tabby’s Place’s 15th anniversary.
I’ll let my words be few.
Eight hundred thirty seven years ago, a baby boy made his debut in Assisi at Umbria. Through a wild and woolly youth, he came to be the joyful, holy man cherished by animal lovers, nature nurturers, and gentle souls of all sorts.
If you navigate the nooks and crannies of Tabby’s Place, you’ll find Francis-es frolicking about. Here, a little ceramic saint above the sink; there, a tiny painted icon next to the bottle of detergent. People can’t resist reminding us, via St. Francis, that this is sacred work.
Racing and chasing across the lobby, to the tune of hisses and spits, to medicate aforementioned cats.
Hugging and brushing and playing with cats.
Cleaning rear ends.
Weeping uncontrollably over cats.
Seeing “invisible” cats.
Adoring “imperfect” cats.
Stubbornly loving cats who seem hateful and ungrateful.
Learning to stubbornly love each other, even when we really are hateful and ungrateful.
Becoming imperfect instruments of peace.
I’m glad people remind us, because, too easily, we forget.
Recently Jonathan (the human) encouraged us to cultivate shoshin, a term from Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind.” After fifteen years of doing what we do and loving how we love at Tabby’s Place, we need to re-re-re-remember the blazing astonishment of this most impossible place.
We take it for granted, and we can, because we’re lucky. But it might have been otherwise. Tabby’s Place, even with Jonathan (the human)’s grace and grit, was not inevitable.
It was not inevitable that the paraplegic and the diabetic and the obese and the emaciated and the snuggly and the ugly and the delightful and the spiteful would all be loved, without distinction, without measure.
It was, and it is, a miracle.
And you, dear ones, are the motor behind the miracle, the ones who keep believing and loving and giving, stubborn and selfless and, dare I say, saintly.
Here’s to the next fifteen years and far, far beyond.
Jonathan (the human), thank you, from the depths of my soul, for letting me play my small role in this grand adventure.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
– St. Francis of Assisi