The long awakening

The long awakening

091209-hailee-5No two creatures wake up in exactly the same way.

Beatrice yawns and stretches for 5-10 minutes before she can properly be called “awake.” Sinatra goes from coma to “I’ve just had 45 espressos” in 3 seconds.

But this wide variation is equally true of the waking soul.

Inverted-V eyebrows much?
Inverted-V eyebrows much?

In some cases, like that of Philippa, the evolution may seem sudden. Two timid years in Suite A gave way to a heart wide open (and a belly wide open to rubs) in Adoption Room 3. Yet I have to believe that her awakening was already happening just beneath the surface in those quiet, cozy years in Suite A.

We can’t always see the seed beneath the surface. We can’t tell just where the wind comes from, or where it’s going. There is always more going on than we have eyes to see.

I cling to this belief when it comes to a cat like Hallie.

Perhaps the best introduction to Hallie is a glimpse at her personal blog. Earlier this month, Staff Jess (not to be confused with Volunteer Jess) assisted Hallie in launching a web presence all her own. It is called, quite simply, Hallie Hates.

As far as our weak human eyes can tell, Hallie does, indeed, hate. She hates widely. She hates indiscriminately. Her hate is like the innards of a pinata that’s been broadsided by Barry Bonds.

Hallie is blessed or cursed with the standard-issue “villain eyebrows” (you know, the inverted V that’s plastered onto every bad guy from Gargamel to Gru). Hallie does not enjoy the company of humans. She does not enjoy humans at close range. She does not enjoy humans when they walk by. She does not enjoy humans when they are nowhere near her orbit.

Hallie hates that no one has built a statue in her honor.
Hallie hates that no one has built a statue in her honor.

Hallie also does not enjoy her orbit. She disdains her bed and opts to poop upon it. She then sits back upon the bed, looking…well, hateful.

Finally, Hallie does not enjoy cats. She does not enjoy cats who approach her. She does not enjoy cats who do not approach her. She particularly does not enjoy cats who walk by her. Like the foolish humans who choose to walk down a hallway occupied by Hallie, such cats will we walloped vigorously, with an accompanying snarl that would make Marilyn Manson blush.


At least, that’s how it looks. But looks deceive, and cats are blessedly incapable of the kind of malice we humans have woefully perfected. (Just try to find me a cat who looks down at people in passe fashions. OK, Cecille definitely does that. But point made.)

We don’t know what’s going on inside Hallie’s large, inverted-V-eyebrowy head. But what if this is just a case of a particularly long awakening?

Really, now, it never really is an all-at-once shift. We are all in process. Contrary to all the movies that end with a triumphant montage set to “For Once in My Life,” there is no one single shining luminous moment when we “get it” for good — at least, not on this side of heaven. We’re always at the work of getting some “it” or another, two steps forward and 42 steps back. We’re getting there, climbing towards the light, but it’s in fits and starts rather than sudden epiphanies.8629322157_9af2d4edae_b

Still, I do think there’s a serious reason we resonate with those tales of “getting it.” There is a reason we want a shining moment. In the immortal words of my homeboy C.S. Lewis:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I’ve always been perplexed by those pundits who fault Bono the Great for writing and crooning “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Hah! say such pundits, with their own inverted-V eyebrows all pointy-like. He says he loves God! If that’s true, how could he say he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for?

I see no contradiction here. We may be sure, to the very marrow of our bones, that we’ve been found, that we’re held, and that the One who made us is unquestionably coming back to win the war. But on this earth, in this life, looking and longing and reaching and climbing is our lot. It’s a beautiful life and a beautiful search. But we’re not being honest if we don’t admit to the days and years of inverted-V eyebrows and wandering paths, of walloping ankles and sometimes looking like maybe we hate.

9858111106_0bb228598b_bI believe with all my heart that Hallie, despite having perhaps not yet found what she’s looking for, is looking. And what looks like hate is the frustration of a journey not yet fulfilled. I pray that she will get closer — much closer — to a deep soul-satisfaction on this earth. Such a serene sweetness is possible, as we know from most cats who aren’t Hallie — and from our own souls in their golden moments. In the fleeing seconds when Hallie lets a chosen few volunteers stroke her, or grunts with satisfaction over her wet food, I get a glimpse of her getting closer. There can be very real healing, very real victories along the way, when Love is weaving all things together.

In the meantime, let’s have patience with her longing. We are all on the same little raft on a very large ocean here, so the most beautiful thing we can be is kind. In so doing, as we yearn for that glorious day when faith becomes sight and we finally see as clearly as we’re seen, we add to the beauty.

And, oh!, even here on earth, the beauty is breathtaking.

Photo credits from de top: AT, AT, Volunteer Jess x2, AT

6 thoughts on “The long awakening

  1. Oh Auntie Angela…. Hallie doesn’t hate everyone. Momma told me there’s one Sunday morning volunteer (not her) that can actually walk up to her and pet her. Momma saw it lots of times! Michael Dillon you’re gonna be famous now!

  2. I have to admit, not to brag, but I have pet her, as well — I had no idea she wouldn’t like it and I just walked up to that magnificent head and snuzzled it. I still have all my body parts!

  3. I, too, have had a taste of the world of Hallie Pets! Head skritches. She closes her eyes and leans into it, and then lifts her head so I can scratch her cheek. The angry Hallie expression melts away to the little smile of kitty bliss.

    Then, after 4.6 seconds, she realizes she’s being touched by a human and gives me the death stare/hiss/backtheheckoff. But I always come back for more. 😀

  4. Wonderful post! I sometimes worry that Hallie’s behavior is due to pain (especially GI), though I know she has excellent vet care. I wish they could talk to us 🙁

Leave a Reply