Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This summer, I went on vacation. No wait... let me start over.

A few years ago, I was visiting my family up North when I made the following comment:
“I think I might want a cat one day. They’re sooo cute.”

To which my dad, without hesitation, responded:
“Yah. But then you’d be that lady with a cat.”

Touché, dad. Touché. I won’t get one.

However, just because I am not going to get one, doesn’t mean I won’t still like them. Secretly. At least until I get married to a man and people stop questioning…things (definitely, definitely a different post).

So, where was I? Ah yes; vacation. My trip this summer was, and still is, one of the highest highlights of 2010. The beauty of friends overwhelmed me, and the simple joy of just be-ing with people who know me the best was awe-inspiring. It was exactly the remedy I needed to survive the harsh cold of a crazy summer. But crisp Alberta air and long-time-bests aside, one of the most poignant moments of the trip for me was actually…with Walter.

Walter is Trinia’s cat.

The story’s beginning, if I can tell it without playing too many violins, is that my year had felt akin to solitary islands and flimsy surrender flags during brutally surprising assumptions. Cues have been left on nearly every blog post, so I’m not sure I need to explain it in much more detail – except to say that through the grit and sandpapery heart-handlings, I maintained (and even began to cling to) my weird, nonsensical, readingintoitforthesakeofmysoulandallthatisgood-type habits. Enter Walter.

I was feeling particularly raw when I stepped onto Trinia’s doorstep (ps: if you ever want to meet Sunshine in human form, let me introduce you to this remarkable woman). I fell gratefully into her hugs and smiles and home-cooked meals. To say I feel safe in our friendship is a drastic understatement, and as we visited and talked about each of our years-so-far’s, I could feel my little heart unwinding a bit more. That first day, Walter was where I was. I know this is a cat’s behaviour, but it felt like grace; especially because I was being somewhat coldhearted towards him – attachment felt like pain, even if it was just to a cuddly creature for a few too-short days. But there he was, whenever I sat down. Unrelenting, curious, and unassuming.

Like any night during a crisis, falling asleep proves difficult; especially when there are animals crawling on your face. So, Trinia graciously accepted my request that Walter (cute as he is to look at) be locked out of the room at night. I agreed that we could let him in once the morning came because I might be semi-awake then, and not so surprised when there were whiskers on my forehead. So once the sun had set for awhile and started rising again over Calgary’s rooftop, in came Walter. He paused after he jumped onto my feet, perhaps listening for instruction, then bounded lightly over to my bed head. Gingerly, he crawled himself under the blanket in the crook of my arm, curled his face into the gap between my aching heart and my weary head, and nuzzled firmly into my jawline. Then he put his little white paw around my neck; and then he fell asleep. In that moment, I felt like I knew God.

I know it might be silly, but I am getting a little misty eyed as I remember. It was one of the first genuinely unexpected tender graces I had experienced since January – and here was this cat, taking the shape of the exact thing I had forgotten that I needed. He didn’t even want to know about my many mistakes. He didn’t even want to fix me. Maybe there are no popularly quoted Bible verses on the Grace of God through animals, and maybe Walter just saw a golden opportunity to snuggle with a ravenously attractive woman (totally likely). Or, maybe, this “thing” that we call God is much less “thing” and much more “God” and is not entirely definable. Because I have heard Him speak more often through the things I was told were silent; things like waves on sand and setting suns and feeble white flags on solitary islands. And cats. I have known him to work through cats, too.



Mama said...

This is lovely and I got all teary.

I love the men's names we've ended up with for our cats. Walter, Hector, Bruce and Steve. I'm forgetting Lizann's previous kitty....

I'm so glad you could meet and spend such lovely moments with Walter and of course, dear Trinia. I hope your heart is better. I just know that the next time you're up here, Hector will give you the gift of his affections.

alisha said...

Oh Ash, this made ME all misty eyed, too! I love this. Beautiful writing, beautiful story... God is surprising and good, isn't He? Miss you, friend. :)