The world hurts.
Our cities are weeping. Pestilence is leaping from land to land.
We are entirely too separate from one another.
The separateness complicates everything. It confounds conversations, long circles that stop short in sniffles of “I just miss you so much.”
It makes us erect hideous towering walls, an exhausting unnecessary project to protect the myth that we don’t belong to each other.
It drives the brutal spike of death between body and soul, flinging us to realms where only sighs can reach.
We have forgotten the most important thing.
Sometimes, I’ll confess, it feels strange to devote my life’s work to a cat sanctuary when the battered heart of the world is covered in sores and tears. I hear the voices that would say, “they’re just cats.” When the quilt of human kindness is being shredded by separateness, is it any time to raise money for kitty litter and feline chemotherapy? What are we doing here? Have we forgotten the most important thing?
Meekly, wrapping myself in prayer like a blanket crocheted by a steadfast grandma, I would say we have not. I point to my luminous staff family for proof.
I would say that, when one of my sister staff expresses the bladder of a cat from Lebanon, not because he’s useful but because he’s in need, not because she has to but because she can, she’s touching the most important thing.
I would say that, when a weary worker makes time to dote on Dani, not because Dani’s perfect but because she was abandoned, not because my friend has the time but because she has the wisdom, she’s touching the most important thing.
I would say that, when a teammate at the end of her shift straps cantakerous Anka into a stroller, not because he deserves it but because he aches and screams for it, not because he’s “good” but because he’s here and loud and lonely, she’s touching the most important thing.
When they delight in Divya, attitude and all; when they tend to Twister in all his tender tangles; when they deliver healing that transcends medicine for Sophia‘s bloody nose and Luna‘s lonesome heart; when they field outrageous emails about outrageous cats with composure and compassion; when they treasure ferals that few will ever know; when they give their all to creatures so love-greedy they’ll take it all…they’re touching the most important thing.
And I need — I need — to believe that, when I tell you all these stories, cat tale upon tale, entangled like yarn, I’m enfolding you in a parable that goes on and on.
We are all about cats. And, in so loving, we are about far more than cats.
We are fighting, day by highly imperfect day, act by fallible act, for a kindness that needs no “reason.”
We are working for a mercy that sees no borders.
We are giving ourselves to a grace that gives without evaluating, assessing, measuring merits.
And we are, day by miraculous day, given what we need to keep going.
I need to believe — and I do — that what we do contributes in some feline and human way to the healing of the world, tikkun olam. Tabby’s Place has never needed a book on minimalism or “simplifying your life in 156 easy steps;” we’ve only had the strength and the calling for the one thing.
The only thing.
Someone far wiser than me, whose soul survived far darker nights than I can imagine, has said, “Everything passes. In the evening of life, nothing remains but love. Everything must be done for love.”
You and me, we can’t stitch the whole quilt back together. We feel helpless watching footage of faraway pain and grief and anger; we feel powerless in our prayers, believing even as we cry for help in our unbelief. No, we can’t fix the tatters. But we can work our own squares. Every seam, every color, every prayer is ultimately connected. We are not separate, and with every stitch, every stubborn mercy, we can remind the world.
In these days when it feels as though evening has fallen hard upon us, may we be reduced to love. And may we find that, in loving cats and each other with all our strength, we’re enlarged beyond our own impossibilities.