Written for an Advent Daily Devotional for the UCC in Wallace, ID
Roxy came calling this summer, and brought her humans with her. A soft spoken, perky eared canine with feathery pantaloons, she appeared at the door with her proud tail wagging and a smile on her face. Yes, this dog smiles. She’s also a natural healer who seeks out the laps of the lonely and snuggles with the grieving, yet our feline family members failed to note some of Roxy’s finer features. To their credit, Crystal and Midnight resisted their natural inclination to hysterics, but welcoming they were not. No, they stood their ground while sizing the visitor up and staring her down. Oblivious, Roxy let herself in and showed herself around, while the cats shifted their positions only as required to keep their eyes peeled and the intruder within their sights. The evening passed peacefully enough, in no small part because Roxy joined the humans on the deck, leaving the cats inside to keep watch through the glass.
While our three guests retired to their travel trailer for the night, the cats fidgeted and prowled, trying to make sense of what had just happened, clueless as to whether the storm had passed or another round was on the way. By the time morning dawned and Roxy reappeared, Midnight seemed resolved to make the best of the situation. Not that there was any butt sniffing or ball sharing, but she stayed in the game, remained in the room and went on with her life. Crystal, on the other hand, was done. Wandering the rest of the house, she tried out dark corners, the dust under the bed and finally landed on the top of a utility room cabinet. A cabinet whose top shelf requires me to stand on the very top rung of a 4 foot ladder. Far enough away to not have to participate in the offense in any way, yet should the invasion expand, high enough to (hopefully) be out of reach of danger.
I’ve considered writing the incident off to predictable cat bias, and I might have succeeded had Crystal not rung bells of recognition. I’ve seen in myself and others the wary watchfulness of the Other we don’t recognize, whether because of the head covering or language spoken, skin color or unfamiliar smell, inconceivable beliefs or piercings and tattoos that offend. How many of us are willing to settle in, like Midnight, and admit there’s no need for retreat; especially not when there’s food to be eaten, a world to observe and a life to live. Maybe even a thing or two to learn.