Some days this job brings us very close to something very sacred.
Correction: that occurs every day. Some days we’re just temporarily unclouded enough to see it.
Tabby’s Place is graced with a staff of about fifteen; a volunteer community of over two hundred; and a variety of visitors every day. But in the larger Tabby’s Place family, the physically-present folks are the smallest fraction. Not everybody who’s “here” is here. We have many more ministering angels and spirits than we have boots on the ground.
And so, a large part of our vocation here is opening the roof. We do our imperfect best to lift the panels, flatten the walls, let the stories and secrets out and the distant lovers and angels in. We relay the cats’ radiance. We tell the tales that few eyes have seen but many hearts have made possible.
We are transcriptionists of the holy.
But the holiest holy happens when it all hits you.
Every time a correspondent writes an update on a Special Needs cat; every time a volunteer posts a cat’s searing story on social media; every time I sit down at this daft blog and do my darndest to share what I’ve seen; every time…you show up.
You, the ones who have never finger-to-fur touched one of our cats.
You, the ones who have never spent an hour in our time zone.
You, the ones bound by time or age or season or struggle to stand outside Tabby’s Place’s gates.
You, the ones who love more than could ever “make sense.”
You choose — and it is certainly a choice — to let these particular cats into your souls. You choose to rejoice and to worry and to hurt — my stars, do you hurt — with each rise and fall of their small stories. You will never personally feel the warmth of their jellybean toes, or feel their wind-tunnel purrs on your neck. You love anyway.
I was reminded of this today as I participated in the monthly Ritual of the Updates. The fifteenth of each month is a sort of feast day. It’s the day on which the stories shoot forth into our monthly sponsors‘ inboxes, letting you know the mundane miracles and luminous lives “your” cats have lived the past thirty days.
No sooner do those emails shoot like stardust, than the outpouring begins. Every month, whether the news is large or small, you write.
You giggle to tell me how glad you are that Rose is rocking right out of her diaper.
You can’t contain your love for Mary.
You marvel at Anka‘s “species-ism,” in which he loves human children and hates (ALL) cats.
You pray for Max.
You weep for Chachi.
You pour out your hearts and your words, not expecting a response, just too full of love to keep it to yourself.
It is a torrential outpouring.
And, make no mistake; your outpouring is a pouring-out, a giving of something you can’t get back, an emptying of yourself and your precious heart.
To love like this is not wise by the world’s standards. You’re giving unnecessary amounts of affection and attention and your very self to cats you only know through story and spirit. You’re pinning your heart to a giant target, inviting these magical creatures to pierce you with their tenderness and their mortality. No one gets out of such love unbroken, and when you pour yourself out like this, you get broken over and over and over again.
Even if you’ve never been here.
But then, in the ways that count, you are always here.
It’s a fearsome and holy thing, bearing so many stories.
What a wonder that we bear them together, shoulder to shoulder across many miles.
And so I thank you in awe and wonder, whether you pour yourself out from near or far. We see you. We know you. We tremble to be in the presence of such love.