Last night I had my friend Maggie over. I didn’t want a visit from her. I’ve struggled this week, I’ve been busy and tired and there’s been a lot going on. My head is full, I needed to do some practise for tonight’s rehearsal, I was exhausted and facing a big day today, and my to-do-list is almost as long as I am tall. I just wanted an evening on my own. It doesn’t matter that Maggie’s a cat, and not a human and therefore demanding of conversation. I just didn’t have the energy to play the string game, to scratch her ears, to engage with another soul needing love and attention and more than I had to give.
But if you’ve ever tried to stop a cat from doing exactly what it wants to, you’ll know that it’s pretty much like ordering clouds to form an orderly queue. Utterly futile, a complete waste of time. So Maggie came over.
She was in her absolute favourite spot in my flat – cuddled up under a throw rug, on my lounge. Maggie values that place. She will not move for anything. Not a hug, not the offer of a string game, not even Cat Treats. And truth to tell I’d forgotten about her when I was sitting at my desk writing, and the wave broke over me and I started to cry.
I’m not very good at crying. I don’t do it very often and the vulnerability and loss of control inherent in crying terrifies me. I’m careful not to do it in front of people and I would certainly never seek out the presence of another soul when I’m in such a state. When I’m crying, I cannot bear compassion.
I didn’t need to seek out another soul, though. The soul came to me. Maggie extricated herself from under her throw rug, jumped down from the lounge, walked across the room and jumped up onto my desk. She stood in front of me, batted my hands with one paw until I removed them from over my face, and then put her forehead, warm and soft, to mine. She stood there, offering me her touch and the comfort of her presence, and let me hold her, my fingers buried in the scruff of her neck, and let me cry into her fur. Tears are wet, and Maggie hates water just as much as the next cat – but she didn’t pull away. With nothing to offer, and presumably no real understanding of human emotion or the complexities of why I was crying, she simply offered me herself. She offered me warm fur, and touch, and the comforting vibration of her purring. She offered me love.
We both waited the storm out and when I’d finished crying and got up to wash my face, she simply hopped down from my desk, hopped up onto the lounge, and disappeared under the throw rug again, her job done for the evening.
A friend once said to me that if we shut the door on God, then God just comes in through the window. My thing is this: if we shut the door on God, then the Creator of the Universe will just send a cat to nag you until you bloody well open the door you shouldn’t have shut in the first place.