There is a delightful poem by Canadian poet Lorna Crozier that begins:
“If I were called into construct a new religionI should make use of cats.”
Today is Paka’s “Gotcha Day” – 12 years ago today, on July 31, 2007, she joined my household as a 4-month-old grey fluffball. When I went to the Thunder Bay Humane Society to choose a kitten (shoutout to Tara and Leah who came with me to "help" – I had to promise your mother that we were only going to be coming home with one kitten and that kitten was for me!), she was the kitten who wouldn’t let me put her back in the cage.
One of the first pictures of Paka as a kitten
She has had to be adaptable over the past 12 years. She has lived with me in 5 different homes, and suffered through 2 cross-province and 3 cross-country moves. She joined me in mourning the loss of Lily in 2017 – Lily who had been the “old cat” when Paka joined the household. And then she joined me in welcoming Nuru-kitten to the house last summer.
When we lived in Dartmouth
A recent picture of Paka showing off her whiskers
But as well as learning about adaptability from Paka, I also like to think about everything that I have learned about God from my cats.
Having a kitten in the house has reminded Paka how to play; while at the same time Paka is teaching Nuru how to “cat.” Watching the two of them bonding over a crinkley pompom or leaping to catch the end of a fishing rod toy, I am reminded that God is a God of joy, who encourages times of play and a playful spirit.
Even at 12 years old, she's not to dignified to play!
Nuru with her "bitey toy" - she loves this stuffy, carries around the house with her,
and takes her energy out on the toy, rather than in biting me!
As I watch the two of them competing for the sunny spots in the house, then stretching out at full length to bask in the sunlight, I am reminded that the God of Sabbath wants us to pause and rest and take time to simply be. In the story of creation told in Genesis 1:1-2:4a, on the final day of the first week, the pinnacle, the high point of all of creation, God rested.
The sunny patch inside the back door...
... but the current preferred napping spot is the guest room bed
Both of my cats are enthusiastic purr-ers – there have been a couple of times when Nuru has wakened me up in the middle of the night when she jumped up on the bed and started purring – yes, her purr is that loud. And whenever one of the cats is on my lap purring away, I am reminded that God is a God of love, that I am loved and called to love, and that we are never alone.
Sunday evening lap cuddles!
And finally my cats remind me that we are created in the image of the triune God, the Three-in-One and One-in-Three, a God who is community at the core of God-self. I can watch Paka clean Nuru’s face for her. I see them sitting together on the windowsill, chattering at the birds trying to work out how to get through the glass. I experience them conspiring together to get me out of bed to give them their breakfast. And I am reminded that we are created for community. It is good to both give and receive; it is good to be vulnerable together and to be human together.
Lily and Paka curled up together on a rainy day
Paka's contribution towards waking me up in the morning
Thank you Paka for the past 12 years; and thank you Nuru for the past year. And thank you Lily, for all of the love you shared with me, with Ambrose (your first feline housemate), and with Paka in the 18 years you shared with us. Thank you for for the love that you share, and for everything that you teach me.