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Messy, but . . .

Posted Friday, June 1, 2012, at 7:50 PM

She held herself absolutely still. With barely the movement of a hair, she flowed down the hallway. Stopping, she slowly raised her haunches. Her tail quivered behind her in silent, deadly anticipation.

Suddenly she leaped and the mouse never knew what hit it. She tossed it in the air, grabbing hold of its tail, slammed it against the wall, and then let it go, in a move so quick and fluid that it was almost over before it began. She was a huntress. The poor mouse lay in the floor quivering in fear and shock--immobilized by her blow. She reached out a paw; tapped it once; and when it didn't move, sashayed off. She had immobilized the intruder. The rest was up to the humans. The show was over. The humans dispatched the remains of the intruder.

She found a comfortable place to nap in the sun when a dog nose invaded her sunbath. How dare someone interfere with her nap. She slowly opened one eye . . . glared at the head between her and the window . . . tapped it with a single claw . . . and listened to the satisfying cry of pain as the head moved and the sun again bathed her in warmth.

The pup would never learn. She quietly padded into the room and walked over the sleeping pup, claws semi-sheathed. As she leapt over its other paw, the race was on. She flew through the door into the hallway with the pup hard on her heels. She ran into the bedroom, around the bed, onto the bed, and back into the hallway while the pup tried to turn her clumsy, big-pawed body around in the tiny space. Just as the pup cleared the door into the hall she sailed over the dog gate, sticking her landing on the far side. She turned to face the pup, just as the silly thing slid to a stop, banging her head into the gate, again and sat there barking. She padded on through the room and leapt over the other doggie gate into the kitchen. She could hear the pup rushing back through the house trying to get to the other gate, so she simple stood on top of the gate. Wrapping herself around mom's ankles as the pup slid into the room barking.

Mom said "leave the cat alone, pup," as she was picked up and held in mom's arms. They had a wonderful cuddle time as mom pushed the silly dog away. Oh, the rapture of human worship of the feline . . . "oh, that's the spot, rub over there a bit, um, purrrrrr . . .."

She got up from sunning on her window seat. Something smelled horrible. There was messy stuff all over the place. "Mom, somebody messed my seat . . . fix it." "Oh, baby, you are getting so old and feeble. Mommy will take you to the vet and see if we can get your problem fixed. Hold still and let me wash you clean . . . my poor baby."

The vet could not find any reason for her problem. She couldn't help it. When she needed to go potty, it just poured out of her. Mom, dad, and her boy all cleaned up after her. They would help her clean her fur. She hated being messy, but she could help it.

Time went on. She was losing weight. Mom said she was fur and bones. Sometimes she felt like playing, but she slept more and more. Her fur was often dirty. It was hard to groom and keep herself clean. Mom had to help her more and more. She knew she was messy and stinky, but mom loved her anyway.

She was so tired. She was finding it harder and harder to walk. Someone had to pick her up to set her by her food and water bowls. She seemed to be messy all the time. Mom got to the point she would take a towel to wrap around her when she held her. She was so tired . . . mewr . . .mommy hold me . . ..

Wrapping her gently in a towel, her precious body caked in mess, she held her in her arms, rocking her, gently petting her, whispering to her as she thanked her for all the joy, love, laughter, and even frustration she had brought her over the years. Her purr was still as loud as strong as she reached out a paw and touched the face she knew and loved so much and breathed her last. Holding her as the shell that remained grew stiff tears of joy and sorrow made their way down her face.

Butterfly's final gift was her absolute faith in the love of her mother. Preparing the tiny body for burial, her mother wondered if this was how God felt. No matter how messy we are . . . we are God's joy, love, laughter, and frustration. We so often follow our own path and get ourselves into messes, but . . . . God is always there, waiting for us to cry out and when we do wraps us up in arms of love, cleans us and holds us gently, tenderly loving us no matter how messy we have become. God is there. God is love.

Oh God, the lessons we have to learn. We insist upon our own way. We ignore your advice. We find ourselves messy, unable to become clean . . . and you are always there. You wait for us. You hold us. You enfold us in your arms of love and never turn from us. Forgive us God. Teach us to love the messy as you love us. So be it. Amen.

Rest in peace my precious girl, Butterfly. You filled the last fifteen years with joy, love, laughter, and messes. Thank you for the lessons you taught us all.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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