In the never-ending pile of books in my “to be read” pile, I came across a quote recently that spoke volumes to the way I want to live my life. In reading A Testament of Hope, a collection of essays, sermons and speeches by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I found these words:
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.
Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
(I now need to find my copy of this book so that I can properly cite the page, etc.)
In the divisive, winner-take-all mindset of our culture, choosing to listen and demonstrate compassion and love is, well, hard.
But why is it so hard for me to love others as a white woman, cisgender, educated, employed and (relatively) healthy? Why do I find myself struggling to be compassionate when I am hurt by someone’s words or actions? The list of reasons are many, and every one of them is selfish.
My Calling is clear – to demonstrate the welcoming, all-encompassing love of God. No strings. No qualifications. I will choose to Love.
She was born in a dumpster and rescued at about 2 days old. The first time we held her, her eyes were still closed and the umbilicus was still attached. Her mother was a feral cat, so a vet tech hand-fed the litter of three until she and her sister were ready to be weaned and come live with us. Her brother went to another home.
Polgara lived up to the inspiration and audacity of her namesake, the sorceress Polgara of David Eddings’ books. She was small-boned, dainty and a whole 8 pounds when she was full-grown. She had a ‘tude like a mountain lion and took no sass. But she was also smart enough to know when to beat a hasty retreat if she was outweighed and outplayed.
In November, we noticed a bump on her left shoulder blade. In December, it had grown enough that we took her to the vet (or as she called it, “The Shoppe of Horrors”). It was diagnosed as being a fibrosarcoma, rare in cats these days with changes in vaccines. At almost 17 years old, we did not opt for surgery (she would have lost a whole leg!) or kitty chemo. We knew we had chosen kitty hospice, so we got a pain med for her from our vet, made sure she had cozy places to sleep, and spoiled her with treats and extra snacks.
As winter got colder, she looked for toasty spots around the house, choosing a sunny window, or putting her affected shoulder near the heater vent. We created cozy beds for her there.
This last weekend, we saw that climbing steps had become difficult for her. And if she tried to turn suddenly to the left, she would stagger and catch herself before completely losing her balance. She had stopped grooming herself as meticulously, (probably because it hurt to twist and groom her back), and she wasn’t playing with pingpong balls, or doing her “nighttime crazies” romp around the house. On Monday, I took her to the vet… knowing that probably it was not going to be a round trip.
We miss her talking to us in the kitchen, snoozing next to us on the couch, and just being present here and there with her dainty, regal presence. While we love and enjoy our other two cats, she had a “purrsonality” that we miss. A lot.*
Life goes on. We are sad. It’s kind of a stop-and-gut-check moment, to appreciate the people and animals God puts in our path. And to celebrate the lovely, whimsical bit of Creation we share space with every day.
*I know many of you are not “cat people” or even “dog people.” We’ve had people tell us “Oh, it’s just an animal – why are you sad?” (And if you are thinking that, why are we friends? Just sayin…)
God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus. [Romans 3:25-26 CEV]