How God opened my heart through a cat...

I have been sitting with my dear fur baby, Eddie, (black kitty on the left kissing Jack the white kitty on the right) for the past few days. His health has crashed and the doc diagnosed chronic renal failure...in uncertain terms he was given less than a week to live. Savoring each look, each nuzzle, each sweet lingering on my lap I have come to recount how Eddie helped open my heart...

You see, for five years, I walked right by him. Yup - he lived in my parking lot and would come running to greet me every time I came home. He was adorable, laying on his back inviting me to rub his belly. And for five years I said, "No way, I'm not opening my heart to you." For five years I refused to love him - to even pet him - to even acknowledge him. I walked on by with a stiff arm and a cold heart. But Eddie kept coming. He kept pursuing. He kept giving me a chance to love him (and to be loved by him).

Then one cold night in fall of 2002, I let him in for fear that this little creature would die on such a frigid night. And that was it - he captured my heart. For eight years this little guy has sat on my lap every morning during my quiet times of centering my soul with God. I delighted in him just wanting to be with me. Often, when I was distracted and feeling like I was not doing enough for God, God would remind me of my delight in Eddie. The cat was doing nothing but sitting with me, yet I was so happy. And I'd hear the echo of that same sentiment deep withing my soul - that's all God wanted too - "I am delighted to be with you Paula, just like you are with Eddie. Nothing is required...just be with me."

This being with - it is enough.

Now it's time to say goodbye to one of God's little creatures who helped open my heart to love - both in giving and in receiving. Honestly - Eddie is such a picture of God's persistent and joyous pursuit - He keeps coming even when I stiff arm Him and try to close my heart to His advances of
love. David says in Ps. 23:6 - "Surely God's goodness and mercy chase after me all the days of my life." Eddie chased after me...and I finally let my heart be caught.

Ironically, the heartache I now feel is what I was trying to avoid by keeping my heart shut tight for those five years. Now I wish I had those five years back! I know I've loved well because it hurts so dang much.

Frederick Buechner writes about what happens when we steel our hearts against the pain of the world...


To do for yourself
the best that you have it in you to do –
to grit your teeth and clench your fists
in order to survive the world
at its harshest and worst –
is, by that very act, to be unable
to let something be done for you and in you
that is more wonderful still.
The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality
is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed [further wounded] secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.”
Frederick Buechner in The Sacred Journey
Dear Eddie cat has been an instrument who helped open up my life and heart so that I could be transformed. Something wonderful has happened for me and in me that is more wonderful than I can put words to.

So, I say "pause" (or is that paws) to Eddie - there will be a delay until I reunite with him again...this sweet little instrument of God's grace and love. I love you dear boy.