Don’t do it, kittens.
Don’t you dare let them underestimate you.
I know the danger because I walk through this particular valley of the shadow of death myself every day.
If you spend any amount of time speaking of faith, hope and/or love, you get it. People with Serious Ideas and Serious Minds and Serious Reservations about any sort of heart-bleeding business will pat you on your head and assume that it’s empty.
Your head is not empty.
Your tender heart is proof of that. Far from unthinking, it takes exquisite mental fortitude to keep singing love’s song in an unbelieving age. In you I see the courage to keep caring, keep believing, keep fighting for a truth that transcends and outlasts and outguns the anger.
You come to this ridiculous page of the internet because you believe in something greater than pragmatism.
There are plenty of places for that: academic journals and longform “think pieces” and towering tanks of political philosophy will gladly welcome you beneath their arches.
Here you find stories of cats. Not impressive numbers; not sober assessments; just this one, and that one, one by one by love by choice by miracle.
They are the little flowers that go unnoticed along the highways and byways.
You have the wisdom not to underestimate them.
And when you’re underestimated yourself, be of good cheer; you are in the finest of company. Just consider our two — not one, but two — unsteady orange individuals. Tabby’s Place is presently graced with both Bianca (who “suffers” from cerebellar hypoplasia, although I use the term extremely loosely for a cat who clearly knows only joy) and Tempura (who, per a recent MRI, is almost entirely devoid of a cerebellum, but don’t tell her that’s a “problem”).
Because God has a sparkling sense of humor, these two toasty treasures are also living in the same foster home.
Let the infinite orange rolling commence.
Apparently Bee and Temps (we’re nickname-close, the gals and I) aren’t yet each other’s ace admirers. They are, however, both smitten with life.
Even such as it is.
No — because it is such as it is.
Life means space to roll and hands to rub and great wide skies and even ceilings to behold with wonder. Life means kindness around every corner, and the time and grace to ponder just what form that kindness might take today.
Bee and Temps live wondering, what great goodness will overtake me next?
What miracles will meet me in the streets of this day?
Where are the flowers on this new road?
It’s up to us to be the flowers, kittens. We can do it, but only if we’re tenderhearted enough to love the “toughminded” types who don’t understand yet.
We’re not alone in this, and I don’t just mean Bee and Temps. I have it on good authority that there are truckloads of saints and angels backing us up in this quiet, crazy-enough-to-be-wise mission. (Picture them all hoisting up their robes to pile into the backs of pickups, headed your way to hug and holler and cheer you on.)
You just might make out the particular cheers of one particular saint, the Little Flower herself, Therese of Lisieux. From a startlingly early age, Therese made peace — jubilant peace! — with the idea that she was not called to any grand, sweeping sort of action in the world. Hers was not to be a life of great deeds and newsworthy actions. She would not be the tallest sunflower in the field.
She was called to what she called the “Little Way” of love.
Love in every tiny action.
Love for the person in front of you, even that one, especially that one.
Love in the secret ways, known only to the lover.
Love without need for recognition.
Love in every difficult, gifted moment.
Love as a vocation, mundane and hidden and small enough to change absolutely everything.
It sounds so small. It sounds so “obvious.” To the Solemn People of then and now, it sounds naive. Then and now, there were those who thought of Therese as “cute.”
But there were also truckloads of those who saw what she was up to.
And right up there with the eminent men and exquisite intellects, they made her a Doctor of the Church.
Therese’s final words? “Everything is grace.”
Bee and Temps would undoubtedly agree.