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Ruminations of a Feisty Old Quaker

Love and Diarrhea

We have been dealing with a sick cat. Rosie, our Siamese-tortoiseshell mix, has been suffering from episodic diarrhea and vomiting for the last two weeks. All will be well for several days, and then she will go through eight to twelve hours of shooting from both ends. Usually in one of the carpeted areas of the house. Usually coming on too quickly for her to get to a litter box.

OK. We plan to take her to the vet tomorrow morning. But first, this story.

Saturday was one of her bad days. The messes on the carpet began appearing around 5:00 PM and continued every few hours thereafter. The last one came at 2:20 AM. I was sleeping lightly enough that the noise of her dashing down the bedroom hall, followed by the unmistakeable sound of - well, you know the sound - brought me awake. I muttered aloud, "Uh-oh." Melody slept on. I slipped out of bed to do the cleanup.

After I had the mess picked up and flushed down the toilet, and the carpet scrubbed and sprayed with deoderant, I went looking for Rosie. I found her crouched on a throw rug in the living room, looking miserable. Knowing how she was likely to react if I touched her, I didn't try that, just spoke soothingly to her and then turned off the light and went back to bed.

And now you need to know a little bit about Rosie's history. Rosie is a rescue kitty. She was around 10 months old when we brought her home from the pound in January of 2015, but two months before, when she was picked up off the streets of Medford, she had been in such bad condition that the vet she was taken to at that time thought she was a small adult cat. Her kennel card listed her estimated age as "five years." Judging from her reactions to humans, she had probably also been badly abused: we could not pet her or pick her up for the first several months we had her without risking clawed and bitten hands. She eventually got over that, but she still doesn't like to be petted, or to sit on laps. Our other cat, Maggie, sleeps each night on our bed. Rosie sleeps on a chair in Melody's study.

Which brings us back to Saturday night.

Melody was awake when I got back under the covers. I explained briefly what had happened, closed my eyes, and began drifting back toward sleep. A few moments later, I felt pressure against my left side. I thought at first it was Melody's back or shoulder, but when I opened my eyes, I saw that it was Rosie. She had climbed quietly onto the bed and was lying Sphinx-postured in the hollow of the blankets between us. She looked frightened and tense. I reached to pet her head, and when I touched her I could feel her whole body relax. Soon she began to purr, not a sound we hear often. Melody began petting her, too, and for that moment the three of us seemed the whole world.

Eventually, we - the human parts of the trio - rolled over in opposite directions to go to sleep. When I rolled back a little later, I found that Rosie had moved to a space on the pillows between us and curled into a normal cat sleeping position, inches from each of our heads. She was still there when I woke up in the morning.

All animals need love. I suspect that all living things need love. I'm not certain what love is, but I'm pretty sure it isn't just hormones. I think it may be the breath of God. I know God does God's work primarily through love. The physical miracles recounted in the Bible are suspect: I highly doubt that God tinkers with the machinery on request. But love is a genuine miracle. When George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, was asked why God allows human suffering, he responded, "All he has is thee." Part of the miracle is that the miracle requires our assistance. For love to work, it must be channeled through a lover. We have loved Rosie from the beginning - ready claws, volatile personality, occasional litter box failures, and all. She has not appeared to greatly respond. But when she needed love, Saturday night, she knew where to find it.

The United States today appears to be in a serious love-deficit situation. Charlottesville is merely one symptom of a disease that runs all through the social fabric of this nation. Read your Facebook feed. Read the comments at the end of any online article from the national news media. It is not just hate that is ascendant, it is disrespect, contempt, and a belief - a certainty - that there is only one way and everyone who doesn't follow it is ____ (fill in your own slanderously obscene term). Love one another? That old saw? Don't be naive. It'll never work.

Perhaps. But against the mountain of evidence you are prepared to cast toward me, I will hold up one small cat with diarrhea. One small, prickly-natured animal with a large need. A need that could only be adequately met with love. Are you sure this will not work any place love is needed? Do you not yet understand that this place where love is needed is every place?

Try it.
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