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Posted Friday, August 17, 2012, at 6:49 PM

He walked into the room and jumped up onto the bed so he could see out the window to the pasture. He loved this one particular spot on the bed. He could rest his weary bones and look out the window to the north and see most of the pasture spread out before him. He could look out the window to the west and watch the deck and barn area. By being in one spot he could turn his head slightly and see either direction. Of course, being as talented as he, there was a way to see both directions at the same time if He slightly "unfocused" his gaze. This was his favorite nap place in the house.

As he arranged his limbs in the optimal position of rest, he noticed an odor in the room that was . . . different. Not entirely unpleasant, but one he had not smelled before. Testing the air with his sensitive nostrils the smell set off alarms in his mind. This was the odor of another animal. Surveying his room more closely he noticed dark gray strands of hair he had not noticed before. Leaving his comfy spot he sniffed them and then followed the trail of gray.

Coming to the edge of the bed he stood high of the pillows and surveyed the floor. There, just under the edge of the bed he saw more of the gray. It flicked! What was a gray tail attached to and doing under HIS bed? Looking for clues, he sniffed the air . . . Kingdom: Animalia . . . Phylum: Chordata . . . Subphylum: Vertebrata . . . Class: Mammalia . . . Order: Carnivora . . .Family: Felidae . . . Genus: Felis . . . Species: Felis catus . . . or a feline. What is a CAT doing under his bed?!?!

He growled until it showed itself. He hissed. It hissed back. He hissed and yowled his displeasure "USURPER . . . INFIDEL . . . BE GONE . . . GET OUT OF MY HOME!" His voice rose in volume and pitch with every word. The gray beast disappeared. He leapt from the bed and went after it, chasing it to the far end. It ran from under the bed and he pursued it.

It disappeared and he slid out from under bed, braking, but not before he hit the wall with a thud. Shaking his head he heard a soft landing. Leaping through the air onto his rightful place he saw the beast on the far end burrowing under the pillow. He spat his displeasure, screaming for his people to come remove the beast. It hissed back and he redoubled his efforts to drive the beast from his home and bed!

His people entered the room. INVADER he hissed, forcing every hair on his body to double in size and point toward the miscreant in the room. They chuckled and said "bad hair day, Mew?" while one reached for the criminal under the pillow.

"Mom, this vile, evil creature was . . ." he growled as she picked him up and soothed him in her arms.

"Um, Mew, met your new brother. His name is Mystery. His original people died and he needs a new home. We knew that since you were abandoned and lost when we found you that you would welcome him into the household."

"YOWL . . . GRRRRR . . . HISS . . ." he was so angry he couldn't even speak. The beast had curled up into father's arms and was doing the slitty, cat-eye, "I love you" move. He would pay!

Hours/days went by as the two grays growled and hissed their displeasure at one another. Finally a truce was called. They agreed to co-habituate. Actually, they were given little choice, get along or be locked in the bathroom and forced to share one litter pan, one bowl of food, and one bowl of water--torture--again. (The people's roll of paper towels paid the price for that experience.) Perhaps this would be acceptable. This did give him rest from watching guard over the entire house alone. It also gave him respite from the canine creatures wanting to sniff and lick him. He simply told them the new beast welcomed their advances. Hah!

He was slowly forgiving the people. He knew his mother still grieved deeply over the loss of his sister a few months back. Perhaps the beast would help ease her grief. It would be fun to have someone to manipulate into entertaining him--especially into mischief with the canines. Perhaps, he could allow the fiend . . . to become his brother. He was kind of cute . . . dark gray rather than the shimmering light gray of his own fur . . . a bit skinny . . . moldable . . . .

Oh God, when you place a new being in our path, our life, our home, help us to see them as you do--with love and compassion. We so often fight change. We are afraid that someone else with take our special relationship with you and we will no longer matter to you. We become the "green-eyed monster" instead of resting securely in your love and generosity. Help us to open ourselves to your other children--even those different from us. Help us to understand that there is no limit to your love. Help us to understand that the more love we share, the more love there is--it only multiples and never lessens. God help us to see others with your eyes rather than as infidels, stealing from us. Forgive us and teach us. So be it. Amen.

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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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