When our pet of 13 years died last fall, we mourned for weeks before adopting a new one. When Buster, the replacement cat, was lost to a freak accident during a thunderstorm, we mourned again. But the boys bounced back quickly this time, and over the weekend we adopted a rescue kitten from a friend.
What we did not expect was the arrival of the mama cat along with the kitten. But when the carrier door opened, out stepped a full grown female, who immediately parked under the couch and decided she was home. Within five minutes, they boys had named the grown cat Lucy and promised to take good car of her and the kitten, now dubbed Emmett. The car drove away before I could finish mentally adding up vet bills.
It took several minutes before I finally got a good look at Lucy the Mama Cat. When I did, I saw perhaps the most awkward animal I have ever encountered. Her body is snow white, except for two patches of gray fur on her forehead. Her tail is completely gray and skinny as a pencil. She looks like a barn cat wearing a badly tattered arctic fox suit.
And she was now mine. I had to feed her and care for her. I would have to take her to the vet and clean out her litter box. No matter how awkward she looked–and she looks very, very awkward–she was now family.
But that’s the way it works, I suppose. You don’t get to choose family, and often you wouldn’t if you had the chance. The same can be said for classmates and coworkers and people you ride the bus with. Oftentimes, it’s the most awkward among these who attach themselves to you, who crawl under your couch and refuse to leave you in peace.
If God asked me, I would give him a list of those, human and feline, who I would just as soon not share the planet with. I have my own problems to deal with, thank you very much, and it’s hard enough to love those I have a natural affection for. I doubt very much that God would care in the least. He’d send me on my way and I’d have to figure out how to make the best of it.
So we have Lucy the Cat, who now is family. And I have to learn to love her. Experience tells me that I probably will, but also that it may take some work.
The Monday after Easter brings with it a healthy dose of reality along such lines. The pageantry and lofty worship services are over. Christ is risen. Now what?
Now we get back to the work of loving our neighbors, regardless of what they look like or how they come to us. We get busy caring for those who claim part of our space as their own. Like it or not, that’s the work we’ve been given. Whatever walks out of that carrier, we’ve got to find a way to love it.
And if we’re smart, we do so by remembering that we are the awkward ones too, and that somebody along the way has done the same for us.