The thought-provoking poem below was a prompt in my writing group this past week. We were invited to read it through, Lectio Divina style (read through two times, noting what words or phrases stand out, read a third time and meditate on their meaning), and then write about what came up. My mind went immediately to lessons I’ve learned from the cat we lost last month after 16 years and the new puppy who has entered our life. Thank you, Lynxy and Niko, for teaching me new ways to think about bravery, trust, and love.
I need you
the way astonishment,
which is really just
the disruption of routine,
a shock, though—
to having done
what we had to?
Unequally, butCarl Phillips – 1959
in earnest, we love
as we can,
he used to mumble,
not so much his
more the words
themselves sort of
staggering around lost
inside it . . . Now
you think being brave
Hello Niko. You cute little puffball.
We’re already sharing so much love. I knew you were truly mine the first time you flopped over for a belly rub. I am astonished at how much I am enjoying you. Phillips says in the poem, “Disruption of routine requires routine.” For the past 6 days, you have completely disrupted my life, but a new routine is unfolding. As I sat on the floor beside your potty pad last night for the third time, trying to coax you to piddle, I was remembering getting up every two hours when we first brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital. That was a long time ago, and it seems now that it was over very quickly. I can already see you’re a fast learner, Niko, so it won’t be long until we will move into a new schedule. Please, God, let it be soon. I am old now and need my sleep.
It’s a thrill to lay on the bed reading with your head on my foot as a pillow. I’ve really missed a soft furry creature to snuggle with. You know, there was a cat here before you named Lynxy. We still miss him. When we first brought you home, and you were laying in my lap getting a pet, I realized I was expecting you to purr. But puppy kisses are fabulous. Your tongue is like velvet instead of the scrubby tongue Lynxy would use to groom me.
We’ve had a number of cats over the years, but Lynxy was special. We were his people. His fluffy little face would appear around the corner if he heard us talking. I let him bulldoze his way into my lap as I would read or write on the bed, even though there was no room because of the computer or papers. I learned to adjust and allow. Every night, I received the love of this soft furry cat patiently waiting for me to go to bed so it could snuggle up close. Nights have felt unsettled alone in my bed.
Lynxy was bigger than you are now, Niko, and could get on and off the bed by himself. Your little black paws barely make it to the top edge. Even when you’re full-grown, you will be about the size Lynxy was. Niko, Will you eventually be able to jump up that high? For a good long while, I think we’ll have to put you on the bed. Not a bad thing while we’re potty training.
I didn’t expect that you would already know how to play fetch. You are so funny doing the bunny hop after that tiny tennis ball and rushing back. Not to drop it at my feet but to hold it tightly while I try to take it. Head shaking, growling softly. When I finally get it away from you, your little butt wriggles, waiting for me to throw it again. So funny.
I love watching excruciating excitement radiate from your little wriggling body as we play. Tug of War is a favorite. You get a little too excited, and sometimes your sharp little puppy tooth catches my finger as you try to grab the rope. It’s ok. You’re having fun, and I know you are settling in and feeling at home here. Besides, I am up to date on my tetanus shot.
Poets and Pets
The poem ends by asking the reader for examples of bravery. There is something brave and trusting about a tiny little creature who, even after being rescued from a sad environment, trusted his foster family to care for him. And then, Niko snuggled close to my heart as we drove for such a long way to bring him to a new home with us. He’s learning to trust me. Dare I even say to love me? Niko looks for me, whining softly or loudly, wanting to be near me. He’s not afraid, trusting that there will be food, water, and a routine that will provide him with confidence for living in this new place.
God, if only I was as brave as Niko. When I feel brave, I trust in your unchanging love and that you will always be nearby when I look for you. I can rely on your support in the creative unfolding of whatever life has in store. I see the flow of my emotions reflected in Niko. Contentment with life as it is, a change occurs, and then a bit of excitement at the possibilities of a new chapter of life is balanced with a little trepidation. The pleasure of noticing the unfolding of trees and flowers of Spring. The satisfaction at the end of the day when I lay down to rest after a day well lived. The ease of comfortable routines.
I look to youAmen
as Niko looks to me for reassurance.
I depend upon your promises.
Every time I see you at work in my life,
my courage and trust grow.
Thank you for always being here . . .
With me in all life’s potentials and messiness.
After reading Carl Philip’s poem, what examples of bravery do you see in yourself and the world around you?