Cat Cycles

No, this column isn’t about feline transportation. It’s not about transportation at all, and when you come right down to it, it’s not even about cats, any more than a teacher’s lesson is about the teacher.

We live in a household dominated by three felines—Buddy, the long-haired old man of the family, Baby, the sleek, short-haired, prissy and demanding sister, and Wookie, the eternal kitten who can sit in the middle of a freshly-created mess and look at you with an expression that melts your heart and makes you completely forget that she just tore your important papers to shreds.

I’ve lived with these three for long enough that I’ve noticed that there are certain cyclical qualities to their habits and behaviors. For example, Baby goes through a cycle where she is fairly sociable—at least by her standards—and actually is seen in public even when it’s not time to eat. She will curl up in my laser printer’s top output tray, where it’s nice and warm, or on top of my computer monitor, and monitor my computing activities through closed eyes. She will stretch out on the arm of Sharon’s favorite chair in the family room and assist Sharon in selection of TV channels or reading materials. She will spend the night snuggled up on the bed with us, even stopping by to rub up against us and demand to be stroked. Then, for no apparent reason, Baby drops out of society, becomes anti-social, and spends her non-eating time under a bed or behind the couch. We’ve identified this as a recurring cycle of behavior, not a one-time thing.

Wookie is the lover of the feline family. She often greets me when I step out of the shower in the morning, standing on the bathroom counter and reaching up toward me with her paws until I pick her up and let her snuggle on my chest with her nose alongside my cheek. This is typically accompanied by a gentle “love bite” to my nose. When I’m writing, I usually end up with her in my lap or sitting on top of my high-back chair, serving as my creative consultant. But, there are times when Wookie becomes aloof and distant, refuses to be picked up or held, and generally retreats from society. In those times, Baby usually becomes more affectionate—almost like she’s “filling in” for Wookie. In fact, as I write this Baby is in my lap, facing me, with her front paws “kneading” my somewhat too abundant mid-section. This is not typical Baby behavior.

We humans go through cycles, too. Some of them are caused by biological or chronological factors, and some “just seem to happen.” We also go through spiritual cycles, although we don’t usually admit these all that freely. We have mountaintop moments of victory, and we have valleys of defeat and despair. In between, there is a range of emotions and experience that make up the majority of our spiritual walk. While we aim for consistency in our walk with Christ, we have to acknowledge that even Jesus, in his earthly ministry, had His ups and downs—it’s part of being human.

There is one thing in all creation that is guaranteed to be non-cyclical. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” God is very consistent. He loves us when we’re on the mountaintop of victory, and He loves us just the same when we’re face-down in the mud of defeat. Even King David, the “poster boy” for inconsistency, understood the consistency of God. David wrote in Psalm 23:4a: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Wherever you go—there God is.

The story is told of an old farm couple traveling down the road together in their old pickup truck. The wife begins to reminisce, saying “I remember when we first bought this truck. We were newlyweds, and we were so much in love. We’d drive down these roads together, with you behind the wheel and me snuggled up alongside you, just as close as could be. It’s just not like that anymore, and I miss those days.” After a few moments of silence, the husband uttered just one, telling phrase: “I haven’t moved.”

If you feel as though God is very distant from you today, remember: He’s not the one that’s moved.

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