Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm Being Stalked!

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain pelted my window, and even through the darkness I could see the storm clouds roiling, churning...moving across the night sky like some undulating viper. I sat in the dim light of my office, staring at my computer screen, alone except for the characters playing out their lives in my head.

That's when I felt it. Something flicked the back of my hair.

Considering how short my hair is, I knew whatever was behind me was close. Veerrryyy close. Slowly I turned--and found myself staring into a pair of gleaming eyes. Malevolent eyes. Eyes that warned me not to move another fraction of an inch...

...without scratching those fuzzy ears.

It's official. I have an office cat. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm an animal person. LOVE animals. But this is my brother's Kamikaze cat who used to hide under things and shoot out razor claws to slice my ankle as I walked by. The cat I've threatened on a number of occasions with "Can you say 'drop kick'??" NOT the kind of cat I wanted hovering over me. But lately, for reasons known only to cats and the mystics of old, Garfield has decided he likes me. So much so that he spends a good portion of his day stalking me. And when he's not doing that, he's jumping up and walking across my keyboard, or racing crazy circles around my office, or--his favorite pastime of late--scrambling up the back of my chair and perching there, a kind of breathing, tail-twitching head rest while I work (though weather it's to be near me or to watch out the window where the birds are dipping in the bird bath is anyone's guess).

And I have to admit it, I like it. I like that the cat's adopted me. And that he's decided his spot is on the back of my chair. Makes me grin when I feel the end of that twitching tail tweaking at my ear, or the soft nudge of his head when he wants a scratch, or the gentle touch of a paw when he just wants me to remember he's there. And when he deigns to jump up into my lap, I pet him with respect, ever aware of those muscles and the warning they give off when he tenses. Too much. Stop or pay the price. And yet for all of that, when Garfield's claws are sheathed, he's a pretty nice cat.

Kind of reminds me of God. That gentle presence, reminding us we're not alone. That nudge when we need it, that twitch in our hearts when we're about to take a path we shouldn't, the warning that comes with enough time to head off trouble if we'll just pay attention. And if we don't? Well, you know what Scripture says: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). (There is one place, though, where my comparison fails. Garfield is a nice cat when his claws are sheathed, but God is always good. My actions don't change His goodness. Thank heaven.)

Having this cat hang around has helped me better understand a poem I've always liked: For My Cat, Jeoffry by poet Christopher Smart. It's long, so I won't quote it all, but I'll leave you with my favorite stanzas:

For I will consider my Cat, Jeoffry,
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving Him.
For at first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way...wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat...
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessings is lacking in the spirit...
For he is of the tribe of the Tiger.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion...
For though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any quadruped.
For he can treat to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.
For all this, will I consider my Cat Jeoffry.

And will I consider, and appreciate, my brother's cat, Garfield.

Peace, all.


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