We didn’t stop the tide in 2013.
We didn’t turn off the tap.
We didn’t put an end to the homelessness and the cold and the chaos. We didn’t eradicate hopeless situations. We couldn’t even hold a single cat in our arms tightly enough to drown out the bells of death — and oh, dear Lord, how we tried, we tried, with good, strong hands.
We didn’t. We couldn’t. We’re not that strong.
2014 looks very much like 2013 in that respect. There are cats who need us. There are cats in our souls who will not see 2015 no matter how hard and wise and desperate we try and work and pray.
Are we doomed to a cycle, a Sisyphus shove up the mountain, an endless, frantic licking up of single drops while the waterfall roars overhead?
Or are we in a different kind of story altogether?
If every raindrop is sacred, our trembling hands are enough. This year, this hour, we’re only called to catch this drop, then this one, then this one.
Stronger hands control the cascade.
If every song is everlasting, the gut-wrenching chords that seem like the coda only cue the music in a distant room.
We’ll hear it again someday. On holy days, in thin places, we can almost hear it even now.
And if every ounce of love changes the world, 2014 rolls in very differently from its predecessor. Each cat we love bears a weight of glory beyond imagining. We have loved fiercely. We have loved fully.
And we have changed the world many, many, many times over.
On this side of the veil, these labors can feel like singing into the ocean. How can it matter? Who hears the song across so many miles?
This all came to me in an emotional tsunami the last week. I was in a Target some distance from home when I realized I’d spent 20 minutes wandering the Non-Prescription Healthcare Aisle and feeling like a basketcase. All at once I realized why. I had not been in this particular Target for approximately 7.5 months. The last time I was here, I’d laden my arms with box upon box upon can upon can of cat food of the high-deliciousness variety, with names like Fat And Happy and This Is Junk But Your Cat Will Love It. I’d done it because some part of me believed, stubbornly, that if I could just get the right food, purchased with the right love and desperation, Webster would eat, and then he’d get completely better and everything would be absolutely fine again. And forever.
As we all know, he didn’t, and it wasn’t. Not now. Not yet. Not this side of heaven.
But it will be. For each one we’ve lost, for each one we couldn’t bring under the canopy of our care, and for each one still here, it was worth it. It is worth it. We would do it all again, and until the day when love’s final victory is won, we’ll do it with all our might.
Just because we don’t see doesn’t mean the healing isn’t happening. Death will be defeated. Loss will lose. Hopeless situations will be a distant memory, of the “remember that night we got locked in the Wawa bathroom?” variety.
So, 2014, we sing on: yes to love. Yes to cats.
We did love. We will love. And every ounce of love is bubbling over towards a tomorrow that’s as sure as spring.