After 21 years with my beloved companion cat, Sophie, I knew I wanted to wait before visiting my local humane society to see if a kitten might want to go home with me. A couple of months went by and I began to feel the emptiness of my big old house—I knew I needed another breathing entity to touch, be responsible to, and grow to love. My trip yielded my new kitten whose name on her cage, given by a vet who gave her initial shots, was Darla. As we were driving home, I said “I don’t think I can live in the house with someone called Darla—I don’t know what kind of name it is.” Thinking about her coloring as a tortoise shell, the new name came to me in a flash—Patches because of the flecks of gold woven into her otherwise black fur.
She is now six months old, weighs 4 pounds, and is a joy in my life. Since my previous companion animals lived so long, it has been 21 years since I’ve played with a new kitten. What I observe in Patches and what delights me is her joyous playfulness. She will run all over trying to capture the neon pink feather at the end of a long black wand. Up on chairs till she almost tumbles over from the top of them, burying herself among the various pillows on my living room sofa where she is sure she can confine the elusive pink thing, jumping mid-air after agilely turning her whole body 90 degrees because I change directions on her. All this goes on every single day and has for the whole three months she’s lived here.
I believe animals can teach us deep life lessons if we are only patient enough to observe them. What Patches is demonstrating to me, even as I lean dangerously close to despondency as city after city has its own “Ferguson moment” or yet another senseless mass shooting occurs in some innocent locale, is the ability to remain a sense of wonder and hope, day after day, without any real conclusion to her/our quest. A wise 12-step sponsor of mine often responds to my emergency calls by saying I am to “trust in God’s provision.” Even when I don’t believe her, I act as if. Watching this tiny, magical kitten chasing yet again after the ever-elusive feather, I repeat that mantra to myself and keep fluttering the wand so Patches can make one more attempt to contain the elusive. May she and I never tire of this pursuit.