Friday, September 11, 2009

Cats and Grace

I found myself sniffing and sniveling today as I was reading a passage written by Roberta Bondi in “Nick the Cat.” The book concerns reflections on the stranger; people we willingly or unwillingly open our lives to. She writes:
Of course, this is generally the way with stray cats and grace, too; they appear on your driveway or your doorstep in in the grocery store or gas station in an animal or person, your spouse, yoru child, or your worst enemy, you never wanted in the first place and certainly wouls never choose yourself. And one day you wak up to find yourself changed, wounded, perhaps, by love or something like it, understading or manybe not understanding what has happened to your, but filled with an unexpected gratitude as apparently impossible as the gratitude of the cat we ended up taking into our family.
Unexpected grace, in the person of someone I didn’t want or even want to care about. I cannot recount how many times this has occurred to me. Most grace is unexpected -- if not all grace. It happens slowly sometimes, over time, where you find yourself loving and deeply caring about people you never even wanted to know. It happens to me time after time, as I am moved from church to church. I think “I’ll never love these people as deeply as I love those who I left behind.” And then I do. Over time, I begin to care deeply for the people I have been given charge over; even if and when I protest.

Roberta tells of giving the unexpected cat away -- looking for a loving home and of a young man who dares to come and pick up the smelly, wounded animal. He scoops Nick up in his arms and Roberta finds herself saying “I changed my mind… I can’t send him away; I want to keep him myself.” She writes:

All this time, I had never one touched Nick deliberately, never petted him or stroked him. Now I held our my arems and Jeremy brought him to me. Immediately the big cat, for so he had turned out to be, rolled over on his back and wriggled up against me, watching my face and purring in ecstasy. I looked into his eyes and rubbed his dirty, hairless stomach with pleasure.
I teared up at this. She had begun to love Nick, not willing herself so, but growing into that love. I do not know what deep seated need within myself this stuck a chord, but I hear it reverberating inside me. Ah, to love and be loved! What grace can be found!

There is a young man at one of my churches who has begun showing up during services. His brother and sister in law attend, but not this young man. He told me that he thought that the roof would fall in if he went to church -- I’ve been praying for him. He feels unworthy of love; he feels perhaps that he has sinned to badly. This is my stranger who is living among us. He is not someone I would pick from a crowd -- but he is the person that God has given us. May I and may we live up to this challenge. What grace can we find? What blessing is in store for us?

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