like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2 ESV
I have been taught different truths before by C.J., our somewhat brain-damaged cat, but this morning was particularly wondrous.
My mind awakened this morning running at warp 12; it just wouldn’t shut up and let me get back to sleep. Finally surrendering to the inevitable, I got up and went into the ‘reading room’ to spend some time just trying to calm my spirit. C.J. normally follows me around in my morning ablutions and medicine taking, waiting (impatiently) for me to pick her up and hold her on my shoulder. It had never occurred to me how persistent she was throughout the day in having me do this; yes, she liked it when I refilled the food bowl or put fresh water in the water dish (with some ice mind you), but mostly just to be held on my shoulder and stroked. To be completely honest, at times it was rather distracting, even irritating to be pursued by this little creature. She would not stop crying until I acquiesced to her demands and picked her up!
Then, finally, this morning…
Awakened by a multitude of worries and problems, I just couldn’t go back to sleep. Getting out of bed and getting dressed, I wandered out into the ‘reading room’ and sat down to begin my daily devotions. It seemed that something was bothering me deep down and it just escaped me. Opening my web browser on my laptop, I connected to Bible Gateway and began searching for a study or devotional centered on the Psalms. Not finding what “I” was looking for, I just started looking for what was there and found Eternal Words, a series that combined Scripture readings with music designed to, “…bring Joy to your heart and Peace to your soul…” I opened the first one, and within it, a quote from Psalm 131 struck my heart as what I’d been looking for;
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2 ESV
Okay, but what does that have to do with my roiled thoughts and anxiety this morning, and how does that fit in with C.J. normally following me around and crying to be picked up. Wait a minute; it’s been over 30 minutes since the bed spat me out and no C.J. Then it struck me; she wanted nothing more than to be held and cuddled by me. No treats, food, water (even ice!); she just wanted to spend some time being held on my shoulder.
A weaned child wants nothing so much from the mother other than just that thing. They may be hungry (especially once they are teenagers!), but the Psalmist is speaking of the desire for God’s presence rather than His presents. Magically (stop your laughing!), C.J. appeared crying to be picked up. We spent over 30 minutes with my holding her close to my shoulder as we both reveled in the time spent together.
That is what God seemed to be telling me; more than all that He has already gifted me with, He desires my heart to long to be with Him, to pursue Him and for that to be not only sufficient but to be completely satisfying to my soul.
Amazing how my little professor of Theology has once again taught me so much.
One of the cats with whom we share our home (rather from their viewpoint, who allow us to live in their home and meet their needs) is C.J. who, like the others, is a rescue cat. When Kathy picked her up she was full of worms and the treatment to rid her body of these pests was rather extensive and somewhat neuro-toxic. Her behavior is at times ‘different’, but in general she does fine and is an adorable addition to our home.
She is rather insecure though; this morning during my morning reading, she seemed hesitant to approach me even when I called to her. I finally got down on the floor and picked her up and spoke to her with what I hoped was an encouraging tone of voice. She did seem to relax for a time, but soon wanted down and walked some distance away to lay down.
Isn't this a picture of our relationship with God? We too are damaged goods hesitant, even fearful of approaching the One who loves us more than we’ll ever understand in this life; He loves us and wants us to be with Him now and forever but we hesitate, flinching back from His embrace as though He were going to strike us.
We all are damaged goods, broken by decisions made by our far distant ancestors Adam and Eve when they chose the appeal of Lucifer’s lure over the promises of God; we all too frequently replicate that decision, turning from the God who loves us to embrace the dubious comfort of the world and its pleasures. Why do we flee from the One who has demonstrated His love unequivocally?
I have hopes that one day C.J. will accept my love for her; God as well seeks the day when we clearly embrace His love and will continue to reach out to us even more than I seek to demonstrate my care for C.J.
Amazing, really, how God can use some of his critters (even humankind!) to teach lessons to His children. Once again I venture into the vaguely disturbing and uncertain area of Cat Theology, or to put it differently, what our cats have once again taught me about my relationship with God.
We have three owners, excuse me, I meant to say pets who are all cats and all female; I seem to be the token male in our household, but that’s a story for another time. They each definitely have their own specific characteristics, but one in particular is the class clown for our family. Spanky. As the image shows, she is a black and white mix with an insatiable appetite for all manner of moist cat food, cheese, tuna, eggs (yeah, that was a surprise to us as well) and many other items (she draws the line at some things, but they are few and far between). We jokingly refer to her as a dat (dog-cat) or other admixture because unlike so many other felines, Spanky will rear up on her hind legs and beg as only a dog can do. She also slobbers (a lot!) when petted, so perhaps there is some boxer in her somehow?
Anyway, I arrived home from the USO-NC Center at the airport ready for a nap (I've been up since 4:50 and arrived at the Center at 6:00, just minutes ahead of 110 British Paratroopers on their way home from Ft. Bragg. The next four hours were, to put it mildly, somewhat hectic, but incredibly rewarding to see the faces of these troops respond to our providing for them not only food, but a place to relax while waiting for their rides home. So, yeah, I was tired when I got home and ready for a nap. Then Spanky jumps on the bed and proceeds to let me know that it is time for me to pay attention to her NOW!
There are many ways a cat has to show affection; purring, head-bumping the object of their affection, rubbing their whiskers on you (‘marking’ you as theirs) as well as others I’ve read about but cannot remember now. Spanky was exhibiting all of the above and more as I lay on the bed trying to sleep. Why all this affection; why was she so adamant about getting my attention? She wants something, pure and simple. Her little mind is so focused upon me as the giver of ‘goodies’ that it is all she cares about and all she is focused upon.
I remember wondering about my relation to God; do I love Him because of His presents or His presence. Yeah, the last few years have been ‘interesting’, but even in the darkest period, the way God continues to provide and bless Kathy and I is astounding. So, what if I was still in prison; what if I was unable to do so many of the things that bring me joy, would I still love Him? Do I pursue Him solely because He can provide or would I love Him if He left me bereft of friends and family.
The answer comes easy to my mind, but part of me hesitates as I struggle to be more honest with Him, with myself and others. All part of growing toward Home, I guess. All part of Cat Theology.
It really is amazing the ways that God can speak to us when we have ears to hear and eyes to see. Our cats have been a chore at times with their whining whenever they perceive that they are starving (they can actually see the bottom of the food dish!), but most of the time they are a picture of trusting their needs would be met without a great deal of consternation or breast beating.
The animal pictured here was a holy (unholy!) terror getting into the cat carrier to take her to the vet once as we noticed she had an abscessed tooth. Kathy told me of how once (while I was 'away') she'd attempted to place this diminutive animal in the carrier when the small, cute little kitty became a ravening monster tearing her arms to shreds and biting her repeatedly to demonstrate her displeasure at being encased in this plastic thingee. Since then we have a system (of sorts) to package her up; we place her on our lap (which is covered by a beach towel), then wrap her (quickly) in the towel, placing said wrapped kitty in the carrier, then pull the towel out. Voila, caged critter ready for transport!
So, why is it that this same creature is sitting so placidly in the same carrier? Better to explain the wiles of a woman and no, I will NOT attempt that feat now or ever. It is amazing, however, how these cats can just relax and be at peace; why can't I? I am, after all, so much more intelligent than they are (well, my brain IS bigger!) and understand things that the cat cannot, but my mind and heart are often filled with worry more than wonder, with panic rather than peace.
The other morning as I was leaving the house, I happened to see C.J. curled up on the couch fast asleep. She has no idea of the coming weather (snowpocalypse, iceageddon, whatever) or my ongoing struggle to be licensed to sell real estate or any of a myriad of concerns that so often fill my mind and heart. All she knows is that her master (yeah, I know who the real master is in this house and it's not either of the humans) has been providing for her a place of safety where all of her needs are met, so she is at peace. That "...still, small voice..." seemed to whisper to me, "Can't you trust Me in the same way?"