Be Still: A Lesson from My Cat

IMG_4008My three-legged tabby, Trivet, seems to think she’s a dog. There’s none of that cat aloofness or snootiness with her. Since I adopted her a little over two years ago, she scampers to the door when I walk inside it, whether I’ve spent all day at work or spent thirty seconds checking the mail. She rubs against my legs and yowls as I enter the apartment, not because she wants to get out or even because she’s hungry, but just because she missed me.

Honestly, I think pets are one of God’s greatest creations (I know technically people created pets through selective breeding, but surely God came up with the idea). First, you take an animal, which has no notion of hypocrisy, betrayal, or even gossip. All those things are human things; with an animal, you always know where you stand. Then you make it small and cute and prone to bond with and depend on human beings. Result: a relationship that makes up in unlimited, unconditional love what it lacks in words. Pure genius.

Considering all Trivet gives me and how little she asks in return, I try to keep her happy. Sometimes, though, I can’t figure out what she wants. I’ll get home from work and she’ll follow me as I putter around the apartment, fix a snack, read the mail. She screeches plaintively at me, clearly requesting something, and I try to figure out what.

Does she want me to rub her chin or scratch behind her ears? No, that doesn’t seem to satisfy her.

Does she have enough food and water? Yep.

Does she want me to play with her? No, she seems uninterested in any toy with which I try to tempt her.

Finally, I give up and sit down on the couch, at which point she climbs on my lap, settles in, and starts to purr.

She didn’t want me to do anything for her. She wanted me to do nothing with her. She wanted me to give up my idea of being productive and focus my energy on enjoying her presence. Without words, she managed to teach me something. After all, the best relationships are the ones where you can just sit and do nothing together.

How often do I take the time to do that with anyone? I lead a busy life and I’m kind of addicted to multitasking. I feel like I’m not making the most of my time if I’m not doing two things at once. But too often, when I do this, I end up doing both things badly, having given them both just a half-hearted effort. Isn’t this really thoughtlessness, faithlessness, the opposite of mindfulness?

The Word of God invites me: Be still. Be still, and know I am God. But I put that off. Who has time to be still? Who has time to just sit and enjoy God, remember the presence of God right here and now? Who has time to give up all activity, even reading Scripture, even praying with words, just to enjoy the gift of life and breath?

Luckily, I know from experience God is just as persistent as my cat. God will keep calling, and I’ll keep turning around and making a tiny holy space in my hectic life, maybe a little wider each time. Space to do nothing, and just be, with I Am Who I Am.


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