Some wag wrote that “everyone is normal ’til you get to know them.”
But I say unto you, no one is ordinary once you get to love them.
Walk into the supermarket some Saturday afternoon. Watch the teeming masses yearning to
breathe free amass Funyuns. Look at all the faces you have never met.
You will realize something: everyone is kind of funny-looking.
Everyone is also pretty average. There is nothing incandescent in their faces, nothing that makes you tremble or sing or scream.
They are, simply, ordinary people.
Now go back to your house, or subterranean lair, or wherever your friends and fiends congregate. Watch the ones whose lives are braided into yours. Look at those faces you’ve tumbled into knowing and loving and laughing with.
You will realize something: everyone is radiant.
Your 19-year-old with the stomach virus, sitting on the couch and watching Space Jam, is the most beautiful creature you have seen.
Your husband, of average height and average build and average everything except messiness-of-hair, is the most gorgeous individual ever to cross your field of vision.
Your best friend, wearing those weird dahlia-patterned leggings, is the most charming woman you can imagine.
And your cat, your very basic brown tabby, has the face that could launch a thousand dreams.
Yes, of course I am talking about cats.
We people of the cat tend to see the splendor in each cat easily. It takes no imaginative leap to agree with Colette that, yes, there are “no ordinary cats.” The weird ones delight us. The beautiful ones ravish us. But, most supernaturally, the genetically-unspectacular ones sparkle up our eyes and lift up our hearts.
Case in point: Knox. From the wrong angle, the grey tabby is “average.” He is small without being kittenly. He is grey and green-eyed. He has three legs and FIV and a quiet spirit. His face and eyes and nose and ears are all right where you’d expect them.
The very first time you look in Knox’s eyes, a soul leaps out and tugs you all the way to his catacombs. Down you go, down into the beauty of gold eyes and tentative trust and a vast spirit taking tiny steps of trust. No sooner are you pulled into this gentle story than you are overwhelmed by glory.
Knox is beautiful. He is luminous. He is a creature of infinite wonder.
I’m grateful for the proud platoons of rescuers who see this easily. In Knox’s case, a heroine named Marianne found the grey stunner dragging his “dead” leg outdoors. The force of love so overpowered her that she saved his life. That led to an act of spectacular love by Paws and Claws Society for Animals, Inc., whose Circle of Compassion grant made it possible for Tabby’s Place to rescue Knox immediately.
They saw him, all the way to the bottom. Miracles happen when you’re seen for who you are.
And, needless to say, we’re the lucky ones in this.
I am thankful to my marrow that the glory of the feline soul rests close to the surface. But my restless heart can’t help but wonder if we can bear this lesson back to the world of humanity. The cats give us many gifts for our own species, and perhaps the secret of seeing is one of them.
Think back to that supermarket. Maybe that’s where you met the best friend with the crackling laugh, or the husband who was ordinary until oh my goodness he wasn’t. Somewhere in the sequence of knowing these human beings, love transfigured them into creatures so beautiful you can barely bear it.
This is true for the greatest and the least, the big deals and the beggars. No one is exempt. Even the guy with the goiter in Walmart is incandescent, when he smiles. Even that singer whose voice turns you inside out is actually awfully, awesomely average. He makes you wobbly now that the music has gotten inside you, sure, but if you saw him at the supermarket, you’d just think he was a preppy hobo in an ironic T-shirt. “Ordinary” obtains until love arrives.
We are, all of us, average. But just below the surface, we bear secrets and splendor that love can release. Let’s take a tip from the cats this Valentine’s Day.* Let’s love each other’s glory into the full light of day.