“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are ever before me.” —Isaiah 49:15,16
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”—Matthew 5:3
For the last week, I have been babysitting my grandkitties while my daughter and son-in-law are on a slightly belated honeymoon trip. I realize the degree of controversy that could arise from the mere mention of cats. The topic might follow close on the heels of sex or politics. Some people just plain dislike felines … and I understand. I myself have an exuberantly joyful yellow Labrador and a very grumpy orange cat that costs me a lot of money and literally bites my hand as I feed her. Which one do you think I like the most?
But back to the grandkitties … specifically the one who is a young kitten named Joey. Yes, he is rambunctious and curious and into everything. I have had to do more to kitten-proof my home than I’ve ever had to do to make it safe for children. He is beginning to blossom into good health after a rescue from a bad situation and if cats could express gratitude, he seems to do so with all his waking moments by a happy attitude and lavish affection. He also seems to know he is utterly dependent and is unashamed. When he is hungry, he cries for me to feed him. When he is wedged in a tight place or has climbed so high he is afraid to jump, he cries for me to rescue him. Sometimes he’s just “lost” behind a curtain. He can’t see me, so he cries out of loneliness.
Much of the time Joey’s out living life and exploring all the ins and outs of an unfamiliar home, but eventually he gets tired and wants to be held. As I write this, he has crawled onto my lap squirming and purring and struggling to find the perfect place to settle down and rest with his body in the crook of my arm and his head pressed against my heart.
I have no animosity toward the other critters in my home. There are some who only want me to feed them, but to otherwise leave them alone. I oblige them. But how can I forget the one who so desperately longs for my attention and needs my care? My daughter described him as a “street rat” she rescued with food, shelter and medicine. I have thought much about that. It’s who I am as well. I used to think I was someone special … or at least that I had the potential to be so. I was going to bless God by being good and the world with … well, I don’t know … something.
Over the years, I have come to the truth of it. I am also a street rat, a prodigal son, a Pharisee, a self-righteous young ruler, a Judas, a harlot, a leper, a woman bleeding and bent double. God forbid that I should tell him to feed me, but to otherwise leave me alone. I am desperate for him. All of my spiritual gyrations are really just me squirming and struggling to find the perfect place to rest against my Abba. I am poor and we both know it, yet engraved on the palms of his hands.
Let us pray.