Ruff stuff

One of our two middle aged cats, Emma, has been wearing a blue neck ruff to protect her head from her scratching. She is allergic to grains and managed to get some. So she itches and scratches and the scratches turn into wounds and they get itchy as they heal and she scratches them with the back claws until they bleed making it worse.  She HATES the ruff and is constantly trying to rub it off and lose it.

She is mad at us for putting it on her. She cannot fathom how it might help her because it is annoying and cumbersome. We know that it is aggravating for her but we also know that an infection would be worse and the constant cycle of itching and scratching will inhibit healing and produce longer and deeper misery for her.  But she wants that ruff off NOW and her angry gazes and pitiful meows are meant to force us to take that action. Her usually faithful human caretakers are failing her and she is letting us know it

I wonder if God feels the same way about my pleadings to be spared from various encounters and situations. I recall talking one position because I felt led to it and then found I was working with a very difficult rector with whom I did not get along. I recall my prayers and tirades to God about what was I doing there and asking why had this happened to me? Imploring God to change the situation (I was still wanting to believe that Christianity was like an insurance policy that protected me from life’s troubles. What can I say, I was very young…) It was only later that I realized that job was the bridge I needed to get me to the next position which was one that was life-giving and fulfilling.

I do not believe that God is a puppeteer pulling the strings that cause the events of my life to occur. But I do believe that God knows and understands how some of life’s unpleasantness might be better than another alternative whose consequences we cannot predict.

So Emma wears her blue ruff as we are present to her and with her in all her feline indignation – giving her safe rubs that don’t break the skin but not taking the ruff off either. May I remember this and in the midst of the stuff of life I don’t like may I recognize the presence and healing touch of God.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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