After all, they are speaking all the time. It’s up to us to read their glyphs — or, in the case of Lil, their cloud-veiled eyes.
Sometimes I get all mystical and start to think that it seems cats “choose” their quirks. Think about it. Tashi was so powerfully suited to be a paraplegic inspiration; Morgan is the poster child for having an unbreakable heart.
And Lil knows exactly what she’s doing behind that misty eye.
My grandfather liked to tell a parable of a roomful of people. Each one was asked to take his life’s burdens and put them on display in the middle of the room. With all the sufferings piled up, everyone had the choice to bear a different cross.
Everyone chose their own.
Perhaps it is the same with cats. They and we are given precisely the strength and grace we need for our own tailor-made trials. We can’t wrap our souls around the idea of handling that thing our nearest neighbor faces — but the reverse is true as well.
This morning, I was reading a hand-written note from one of our cats’ sponsors, and got caught up on the phrase “Special Weeds.” Two re-readings convinced me that she’d actually written “Special Needs.” Of course. But the irony stuck. What, after all, makes a weed a weed if not simply human preference and prejudice? Why do little girls delight in dandelions, painstakingly weaving them into fairy crowns, while their dads mutter expletives about the “weedy lawn” and go all dandelioncidal with lawnmowers? Who draws the line between weed and flower, dandelion and lily?
Who draws the line between need and triumph, scar and tattoo?
But back to Lil. In addition to making her immediately identifiable as “old,” her cloudy eye seems to slam a lot of doors before they even open. I don’t fault adopters; they see a cloudy-eyed cat and think, Ancient. Sick. Old. Blind. Not for us.
These weeds aren’t for their garden. They weren’t given the particular grace for these particular trials.
Yet Lil’s not-so-secret truth is that there’s really nothing wrong with her eyes at all. She probably had an injury or infection as a kitten, leaving a permanent fog across her eyeball. She can see right through it. Other than some very early, no-meds-needed renal issues, Lil is completely “normal.” She’s also more huggable than a panda and more sweet-spirited than an everlasting Gobstopper.
Once again, the cats make me less judgmental, a little slower to speak and longer to just absorb. I miss so much when I tumble ahead with words and thoughts and bulldozer-bombast. It is too easy for me to fall in with the pundits and self-styled prophets who have it all figured out, telling us just what’s wrong with the liberals and the conservatives and Miley Cyrus and Kanye West and all the Whos in Whoville.
There but for the grace of God go I.
Nobody’s got it all together. Nobody has all — or even most — of the answers. The cats remind me to watch and listen and err on the side of love. There is so much beneath the surface and the skin and the sin of everyone of every species. We all have shadows, and there’s no use bedecking them with ribbons and calling them lights — but we are more than our uglies.
In our moments of wholeness, may we weave dandelion crowns and simply soak in the Lillery. There is so much to love behind every veil.