Some of you may remember that last year I unexpectedly acquired two kittens.
To be more accurate – I took on one (who would otherwise have been euthanized) and then realised I should get another as company for her as I’m out a lot.
They were cute and adorable and cuddly…until they got together… when there ensued hissing and snarling and fur flying! They fought like, well, cat and cat. And of course they were babies – with all that implies in terms of potty training, feeding, injections etc. It was quite stressful trying to keep them apart as well as taking care of them (one lived in the kitchen and the other the bathroom) and after a few days I was seriously considering taking one back to the cats’ protection league just to get some peace.
However, I’m pleased to say that after a couple of weeks they became good friends and blessings flowed – it is really lovely to have them always there to welcome me home
Over the months we have learnt to live together and gradually fallen into a routine. We all know each other’s meal times, bed times etc. – though that doesn’t stop them sometimes trying it on (always more food). And it doesn’t prevent me unexpectedly altering their routine if my commitments require. They don’t like this and mewl a lot when I do appear. Now and then they take revenge and try and alter my routine: normally they sleep in the kitchen, but if they get out (by jumping on the door handle) they will scratch and wail at my bedroom door until I wake and let them in. Living with cats means you learn to do things you never even knew needed to be done – for example, I can type a letter for the magazine over a cat who’s positioned herself right between me and the keyboard while purring like a traction engine – and who wants to ‘help’ with the keys!
It is my practice to meditate daily; often in church before Morning Prayer, but also at home on days off or for other reasons. I figured this was going to be difficult with two small cats around and when they were very little I shut myself away. As they got older and more independent I would forget to close the door and once or twice a kitten entered and confused my prayer beads with an exciting cat-toy.
But they quickly understood that when I am praying they don’t disturb me – and very soon they appeared to join in. When I get out my prayer stool and kneel down, one will curl up on the floor in front of me, just touching my knees, and the other will curl up right next to me on the bed (which is roughly on a level with my head). And thus we remain, basking in the presence of God.
It is easy to make contemplative prayer sound very straightforward – but many times I struggle to concentrate; many times I get an itch on the end of my nose. However I have found that having two small animals next to me helps me focus. Perhaps it’s the quality of their attentiveness, their ability to be completely absorbed in the here and now, to take the world just as it is without worrying about the past or the future.
The psalmist says ‘God, our God, has blessed us’.
He has blessed me with two small cats to help me to pray.
The psalm continues ‘May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him’.
This is my prayer for us all (including our pets, who probably revere him better than we do!)
As I completed this letter, I heard the sad news that Brian’s cat ‘Wiggle’ had died.
She was known to many from parish meetings and social events and her devotion to Brian was obvious.
Before taking up residence in the vicarage, she had belonged to Henry, whose funeral Brian took in 2012, at which time they adopted each other. She has been faithfully by his side throughout his ministry here at All Saints and he describes her as his ‘dear friend and constant companion, come what may’.
Like my cats, she was a real blessing. May she rest in peace, and Brian and Liz be comforted in their loss.
 Psalm 67.6b
 Psalm 67.7