Friday, March 30, 2018

The Bad News of Easter

Quite awhile ago, I heard somebody say,

If you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would still come to die for you.

Over time the statement got buried under tomes of theological head knowledge, its gritty truth never really trickling down into my heart.  

Year after year each Easter celebration I would give genuine mental consent and sincere lip service to the events in Jesus’ life that culminated on Friday’s crucifixion.

Knowing how the story ends, we seemed all too eager to hoppity- hop over to Easter with it’s colored eggs and chocolate bunnies celebrations, as if glossing over what killed Jesus is going to make it magically (or, some might say, miraculously) disappear.

With so many bad news in this world, we don’t want to dwell on the negative.  

Since we have the Good  news, we have to share it and have to share it quickly.

But, good news isn’t good unless you are willing to hear the bad news first.

So, with your permission, I'll share some bad news.

The cross of Christ is God’s final declaration on human goodness.

If we don't want to take God's word for it, life has a way of convincing us sooner or later.

What this means is that best, most wonderful, kind, industrious, talented, impressive, intelligent, good looking, successful person you and I meet (including the one we see in the mirror) has a dark, broken interior we all try so hard to conceal behind a façade.  Religious façade probably being the most grotesque of all.

Some of us are so convincing that we start believing our own Marketing and PR or Facebook feed.

As if this is not bad enough, it actually gets worse.

Our brokenness is unfixable.  We are irreparably messed up and there is nothing, absolutely nothing you and I can do to fix it. In fact, by trying to fix it, we often make things even worser (does that word exist in English language?)

This truth is so sobering, if we allow ourselves to linger in it for a bit, it has a potential to radically alter the way we see ourselves, the world and people around us. 

Some of us might be driven do despair. 

For some, this despair might be the best thing that happened in the lifetime of escapism and denial.

The Good Friday is God’s final heart-wrenching declaration on human goodness.

There is none. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Trusting Cat

As time went on, we presumably met the Cat’s persnickety safety standards.  

When she was hungry, the food was never lacking. 

When she was thirsty, the bowl never ran dry.  

Day after day, night after night, no hidden danger of any kind threatened her life or limb inside our house. No lurking monsters pouncing on her in the dark. Nobody terrorized her in any way, physically or emotionally,  not even those of us who loved her soooo much and wanted to hug her to death. 

As a result, slowly but surely she begun to trust us.

I know, I am the one most amazed by this fact...

The more safe she felt the less time she spent in hiding behind bookshelves or inside the dryer vent. I suppose one might say that she started feeling like our home is her home too, that this is permanent arrangement and she belonged with us.

Her fears and anxieties were slowly dissipating making room for wide-eye cat-sized curiosity.

She begun to watch us, study us, trying to understand us with her small albeit undeniably brilliant cat brain. We were doing nothing really special, just the usual human stuff. Talking. Cooking. Sleeping. Eating. Cleaning. Watching TV. Reading. Wrapping presents. Typing on the computer. Taking showers. Coming and going, leaving and returning.

What a strange life humans live! How fascinating!

She became mesmerized by all things human. Cupboards and lamps. Desks and computers. Chairs and dressers. Walls and windows. 

She would rub her head against whatever object she wanted to grace by her affection,

I love you human-cabinet. You are so amazing! Inside your dark belly you are hiding so many shiny round hollow treasures!

I love you human-leather chair. How soft you are, you feel like you were made of some gentle animal!

And you human-mirror - I love you soooo much. Your purpose is enchanting and beyond my paw's grasp.

One object we used after another, she couldn't hide her rapturous delight, pawing and scratching, rubbing her head against it's magical form. 

But, all this pales in comparison to how she felt when she discovered that at the end of our paws, we have these nifty appendages that give amazing massages!

The Cat learned that not only are we safe, but we are capable of providing endless stream of pleasure by rubbing and scratching her back, neck and behind her ears. Thus kitty yoga was officially introduced into our daily family routine and the cat begun to enjoy and even seek out our presence.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Missing Cat

The cat joined our family as a three year old stray which shelter described as ‘a nervous little girl’. 'Nervous little girl' is a polite way to say that we were adopting a psycho with three years worth of untracable history.

Three years of untracable history wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for in a cat to add to our hormone-raging family mix.  But, the moment we set our eyes on her, we were smitten. I won't even attempt to explain ‘love at first sight’ and the dumb irrationality that goes with it.  

The moment we realized she had thumbs (!), we knew we could never go back.

All the way home she wailed like a tortured baby goat driving other occupants of the vehicle to near madness. As soon as we arrived home and opened the carrier she clambered out, bounced into the study and wedged herself solid between the bookshelf and the couch. The fact that she chose the study and the bookshelves as her safe place made me forgive her for driving us mad on the ride home and love her even more.

The first week or so, she spent in deep hiding. When I say, ‘deep’ I mean ‘really deep’. So deep that one day we thought she escaped during our crazy early morning routine when kids were rushing out to catch the school bus, accidentally leaving both the laundry room and the garage door wide open.

All that day I searched for her in every possible and impossible corner, crevice, hole, crack, dryer and exhaust vent in our house and found nothing. I finally alerted our neighbors who proceeded to organize a search party eventually returning to their respective homes empty-handed.  

In hope to coax her back I followed a recommendation I found on-line and scattered her litter box content around our house and all over the flower beds! I know how it sounds... I am shaking my head just thinking about it. Our house was stinking like a giant litter box for days...

Still to no avail!

Exhausted and emotionally depleted we were sitting on the couch late that night staring blankly in the direction of moving images on our TV, when my husband exclaimed,

LOOK - the Cat! 

What cat? I mumbled too disoriented from the events of the day.

Swaying her hips like a fresh-baked diva, her soft fur aglow in the artificial light of the TV she strolled in front of us as if it's the most normal thing to do on her way to the bowl with food and water. She didn't dignify us with a single look.

I thank God we were too exhausted for an emotional reaction. We just looked at each other, glad we didn't have enough energy left in us to strangle her for almost giving us heart attack, and just enough left to feel the relief that she was safe.

And we loved her all the more because she was found although in reality she was never lost. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guilty Kitty

Some may say that it was unavoidable. That it was just a matter of time, of when not if. Still I am crushed. And confused. I shake my head in disbelief… I didn’t see it coming. Not at all.

Although, looking back now I realize I should have suspected something going awry when our daughter mentioned..... But in the busyness and distraction of the moment, I didn't really hear it, and if I 'heard' it, I sort of dismissed it.

I should have been clued in when I saw her standing on her hind legs, hugging the toilet. I thought she was just stretching, doing her kitty yoga! I even thought maybe we could train her to use washroom instead of the litter box like those smart cats in YouTube videos. I feel so stupid!

Should have... could have...

I don’t know what to make of it…

Despite the fact that she has everything she needs… all the food, water, kitty litter, attention and affection from the family;

Despite the fact that she has free roaming privileges of our (I think) beautiful  (at least by cat standards!)1900 square feet home... I mean she is allowed to go anywhere she wants except the kitchen counter-tops, dining room table and on top of the bed in the master bedroom... 

Despite all of this and more...

… today I caught Palcica drinking from the toilet bowl!

When I walked on her, I was so stunned that I couldn’t even cry out, NO!

I stood there, in the doorway of our bathroom, my eyes bulging out of my sockets in utter horror. The cat turned and looked at me, red-pawed, jumped off the toilet seat and scampered away.

I could tell she felt guilty!

I didn't even know cats have guilty feelings!

Why, oh why would you drink from the toilet bowl, oh silly kitty?? Do you realize how disgusting AND dangerous that can be?? Don’t you have your own bowl of food and your own bowl of clean fresh water from the faucet? What possessed you to do such a thing...???

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Simply Feline

Our cat disagrees with my assessment of human race. Not only does she think that perfect humans are super-easy to come by, she is convinced that we – I mean the whole all of us,  the Mom, the Dad, the Teenage Boy and the Teenage Girl – every single member of our family, is a perfect human specimen.

She doesn’t see pimples, wrinkles, scars and grays. 

She doesn’t care about the D’s and C’s in report card, missed deadlines, mediocre blog posts, burnt dinners or who ate the last piece of key lime pie! 

She doesn’t care how old we are, how tall we are, how much we weigh, if we brushed our teeth and/or hair this morning, if our clothes match or whether they are appropriate for our age or occasion.

It's truly stunning to think of all the things that our cat doesn't notice or give a hairball about. 

All she seems to see is, Human! Let’s play kitty yoga!

Beyond human playmates she also sees that her bowl is full and her bed is comfy.

She doesn’t even care whether her litter box is clean or not.

The other day I was cleaning her litter box while she was standing right next to me.

What? I ask the cat. She tilts her head sideways.

Play with me! 

I can’t play now. See this litter box. It STINKS! It’s a big, stinky MESS. I HAVE TO clean it!

Why? Cat looks puzzled.

Why?!!?? What do you mean ‘why?’ Because we are HUMANS and NOT CATS! We care about stuff like that!

The cat looks even more confused.  I think she wants to ask another ‘why?’ question, but after thinking for a few moments chooses forlorn,

Plaaaaay with meeeee…. instead.

I look at the litter box, the scoop in my hand, then at the cat.

I don’t care about the clean litter box, she says calmly.

Call me sucker, but with that one look I cast what is left of my human dignity under the bus, set the scoop down, and join the cat for some kitty yoga. I know that now I am a perfect human being (at least to the cat!) again, and ultimately, that's all that really matters.

Come to Me... Matthew 11:28

Return to Me... Joel 2:12

Monday, February 19, 2018

Simply Human

Barely have those words formed inside my brain and found their way out through my fingertips … as they begun to slow-roll around the back of my mind like marbles, I realized with stunning clarity that I have no clue what they really mean!

... return to being simply human again...

It sounded good to return to something unaffected, genuine, unpretentious.

Something we don’t have to try to be, we don’t have to strain at being….

Something that comes to us as natural as breathing…

Yet, somewhere along the way we somehow managed to lose, neglect, abandon, perhaps exchange or trade for ‘bigger and better’ things? In that pursuit, we became dehumanized.  Instead of becoming ‘more of’ we became less human. We became reduced to this one aspect of our being ignoring the entire universe of the rest. 

I am the worst example of all! I am scrambling to find a model, a living, real life model of a ‘simply good human’ and I am returning empty-handed.

All around me, there are a lot of ‘superhumans’. Superhuman moms, superhuman husbands, superhuman teachers, pastors, missionaries, youth leaders, athletes, doctors, supermodels…

Or at least that's what it appears looking from the outside.

Of course, there is the other camp of those who exemplify really well how NOT to be human, at least not on their terms…

But a good, old (or young!) human - unpretentious, genuine, solid through-and-through human is really, really hard to find.

I think I want to be a cat!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love and Ashes

I can’t help but register the strange coincidence of today. The peculiar quirk of the year 2018 calendar, when  …

The day that so extravagantly celebrates love in all its delightful forms…


The day that publicly acknowledges our utter inability to love as we ought – 

inability to love God as he so vastly deserves...

inability to love our neighbors as ourselves (being we can't even properly love ourselves as we need to be loved!)

But, today these two strange companions come together in one glorious heartbreaking embrace.

Valentine’s Day.

Ash Wednesday.

Side by side. In each other’s arms. Supreme power and absolute weakness.

Love and grief. Love and loss. Love and heartbreak.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around it.  I want to draw a line and say,

Love, you belong in THIS camp.

Loss, you go over THERE.

I want clean-cut divide that keeps love pure and simple, safely tucked away from the heartbreak, betrayal, hypocrisy and pain that ashes so powerfully symbolize.

I want to separate these unnatural conjoined twins.

But life doesn’t permit.

Of course, I can choose to ignore the facts. I can ‘focus on the positive’. I can even talk myself into believing it's all true. I can put my imaginary VR headset and live in the VR world, believing it’s real…

Some of us do it more than we are willing to admit...

But sooner or later the RL catches up. One way or another, we find ourselves surrounded by ashes… 

It's only then that the RL - the real love and the real loss hand in hand - can finally begin their quiet journey…back to being simply human again.