These are trying times, kittens.
We need something stronger than painted smiles to get through the day.
Stronger than scotch-spiked espresso.
Stronger, even, than cats with lemon helmets.
I don’t need to tell you that our world is all wobbly.
This isn’t new, of course. Humans have been doing wonderful and terrible things to each other since the world’s first lie. But some weeks, it shakes us to our skeletons.
Paris. Refugees. Political posturing. The thousand ordinary wearinesses we wear under our skin, unknown to all but God.
It can seem unbearable.
Compounding the crush, this is that funny time of year when the light gets littler just as our yearning yawns sky-wide. Every night comes a little earlier. Every night, we’re scanning a little more desperately for stars. It is almost winter, almost Advent, almost the time when the year turns on its axis again.
And we are yearning.
I confess that this cluster of yearnings took me places I’m not proud of this week. Sitting in some meeting or another, I began to stew. I wish I could tell you I was praying for Paris, or working out how best to help the feral cats before it gets cold, or even writing a brilliant blog post in my mind.
But I was not.*
I was thinking that I DID NOT need to be in this meeting, this WAS NOT a good use of my precious-too-squeezed time, and there were 350,000 things sitting on my desk getting ever more urgent in my absence. And also, ALL OF YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING AND LET ME DO ALL THE IMPORTANT THINGS. ALL THE THINGS!!! I AM STUCK IN THIS MEETING AND I AM GETTING NOWHERE!
I was in a silent, hideous tizzy. If you saw the inside of my neuroses, you would have needed Pepto-Bismol.
THE THINGS! THE THINGS! bellowed my muddy mad mind.
All of the people continued talking.
WHERE AM I GETTING? I sighed and screamed inside. I AM GETTING NOOOWHEEEEEEEERE! ALL ABOARD THE TRAIN TO NOOOOOWHEEEEEERE!
And then it happened.
Throughout the interminable meeting, cats had come and gone across the Community Room table. This is par for the course at Tabby’s Place; no meeting is complete without Maggie mugging for attention or Mario purposefully pulling out wads of his own fur on the middle of the table.** Sometimes Colleen or Morgan or even Ella will make meetings more magical.
But the one Community Room cat who never loves in my particular direction is Zoey. You remember our funny little grey-pelted girl. Born feral, still squirrelly, Zoey is a polyp survivor with a tilty head and a squinty eye.
She is also very, very, very selective about the objects of her affection.
And, when it comes to Zoey’s love-radar, I am NOOOOOWHEEEEERE!
Or at least, I was.
Right in the black heart of my toddlery tizzy, Zoey catapulted into my lap. At first I was sure this was a fluke; she’d look up, see that I wasn’t Denise, and scramble away in horror.
But she stayed. And she smiled. (I swear she did.) And she proceeded, for the next twenty loudly-purring minutes, to roll her rapturous little self in circles in my utterly undeserving lap.
And she healed me. It became okay to be there. It became okay to be “detained.” It became strangely essential to be exactly where I was.
It’s very hard to feel like you’re getting nowhere when someone is using all her love to prove that you are now here. This is the now that matters. All the things that are waiting can wait, or else they wouldn’t. The world itself can wait.
The world itself will heal — or, more accurately, it will be healed by a power greater than itself.
Greater than you, or me, or Zoey.
Great as Light and Truth and Grace and Life.
The meaning of the word “Zoey,” incidentally? “Life.”
To all the humans and cats I’ve brisked by too quickly this week; to all the friends and strangers for whom I’ve not stopped long enough to drop ALL THE THINGS so as to love you wholly now and here; I am sorry. You are what matters.
Life is now here. You and I are now here.
*My apologies to my patient friends and comrades. Hopefully you did not realize that I was having an inner tantrum during our meeting. Hopefully you forgive me now that you know.
**Yes, really. Everyone needs a hobby.
Photo credits from de top: Amazing Jess B, Amazing Heather, Amazing Mark, Amazing Heather, Amazing Mark.