Cats: Cute Creatures or Spiritual Parables? (Ros' Blog)
Whenever I go away, I employ someone to go in every day, feed and take care of my daughter’s cat, Fledge, who will be moving in with her and my son-in-law just as soon as they move out of rented accommodation and into their own home. In between the daily visits I think she gets pretty lonely, and she seems to like having the radio left on.
I seem to have been away an awful lot this summer – two separate weeks of holiday, 8 days at the Methodist conference for Through the Roof, 8 days travelling to and representing Through the Roof at ONE Event and UCCF Forum, and I’ve just come back from going on the Babbacombe holiday, mainly as a carer for my daughter, but partly also to learn more about our DCF holidays, an area of our work with which I haven’t had much contact to date.
When I come back the cat is ecstatic. She races all around the house with joy for a couple of hours and then for the next week or so is very clingy, wanting to be in physical contact with me all the time. (If any of this blog post comes out scrambled, it may be due to cat-assisted typing!)
I read somewhere that cats have no sense of object permanence. In other words, once something is out of sight, they have no concept that it still exists. So presumably, while I’m away she can remember me but has no idea that I am still in the world and will one day return to her. She has no concept that the lady who turns up daily to feed and water her, empty her litter tray and give her some friendly attention has been arranged by me.
Writing in the mid-18th Century, Christopher Smart composed a poem which begins with the lines,
For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way….
And so on, for a further 72 lines! If you enjoy poetry, you might find it amusing, it’s easy to look up online. I can appreciate the sentiment that made him write it.
It struck me, like Christopher Smart two and a half centuries earlier, that there’s a parallel between the cat’s relationship with me and our relationship with God. As long as we’re aware of His presence, hearing Him through reading His word, our prayers are being answered and we’re meeting for fellowship with other believers, we have no doubt of His reality in our lives.
But what happens when trouble strikes, our prayers go apparently unheeded, and illness, disability or access problems prevent us from getting out and meeting with fellow Christians? Do we put our Bible away and doubt God’s care, or even His existence when everything doesn’t seem to be going well? If someone shows us kindness, do we recognise that it’s a sign of care that He has arranged for us? Or do we lose our sense of His permanence?
The cat is always astonished as well as overjoyed at my return. As we pilgrim through the things that life throws at us, there are times when God seems silent. I’m convinced He sometimes does this to increase our faith in Him. The joy when we sense His presence again is beyond anything the world can give us. In the meantime, our task is to go on praying, to go on believing, to go on seeking and pursuing Him, and not to assume, like the cat, that if you can’t see, hear or smell Him, He isn’t there.