{the neutering}

On a dewy autumn morning, I stuck my ginger-colored kitten into one of those plastic cat carriers that is way too expensive for being plastic, and a cat carrier, and I seat-belted him, carrier and all, into the passenger seat of the car. At least it wouldn’t go flying, if…

The engine had barely rumbled to life when he started crying, and crying, and crying. Not just a pitiful mew, here and there, but full, guttural wails – the kind of noises cats only make when put in baths or hanging out in windows in heat. And he didn’t just sit in the carrier and cry.

He grabbed the grated metal door and shoved his nose against it so hard I was afraid he would hurt himself. He scratched and clawed and pulled and pushed until my whole passenger seat looked like the aftermath of a pillow-fight – dusted with a fine layer of feathery cat fuzz.

It was awful.

I’m a little obsessive with my love for this kitten. He was barely two and half weeks when we rescued him, and I fed him from a bottle and cuddled him and wrapped him in blankets and called him my baby. He’s the object of all the motherhood that’s starting to bloom in the bottom of my chest, the outward sign of the proverbial ticking clock.

I drove forty-five minutes to the animal clinic, and not one of those were silent minutes. If I continuously repeated “it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok” without stopping, he would quiet from wailing to soft whimpering. So I spend forty-five minutes crooning “it’s ok,” covered in cat fuzz and dander.

When we got to the clinic, I didn’t even have time to look at him. I signed him in and they took him to the back. I paid, scrawled my signature – and left him.

And the second I was out that door, I started crying.

He’s just a cat, but he’s my cat. And I knew he was terrified and confused. I knew he didn’t understand why I was leaving him, why I would put him in a car, or let strangers anesthetize him, or why he would stay overnight in a strange place. I knew that in his little cat brain, all he would understand was that he was afraid, and that everything was foreign.

And my (perhaps strangely-placed) mother-heart ached for him. If only there was some way I could tell him that really, it was ok. That he might be scared, and he might be in pain, but that this surgery is a good and necessary thing for him. Mostly I wished there was a way to tell him that I would never leave him, because I loved him, that no matter how scared he got, he would always have a place with me.

The ride back home was quiet. And significantly less hairy. The sun was gleaming golden through turning leaves – all that glory of burning bushes. And in the silence of the ride home, I felt somehow connected to God’s father-heart.

How often are we scared and lonely and feel forgotten, and God is aching for us to realize that he loves us, that he will never, ever abandon us, that we will always be his? How many nights do we spend in the foreign alone, and God is just willing us to understand that he’s right there.

In those forty-five minutes of silence home, I felt all the warmth and security of a father-love that far surpasses my mother-love, and I felt all the ache of a God who wants to be seen and felt and understood and who will never, ever leave us.

So. You feel alone? You feel forgotten? Or abandoned? God is right there, just aching for you to realize that he’s got you. He’s just sitting there, right next to you, whispering “it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.” He loves you; he will never leave you.

It’s ok.

copyright Jenni Cannariato 2014
copyright Jenni Cannariato 2014

When the next chapter is a Genesis 19 (aka, these are the golden days)

These are the golden days. These beautiful, slow, ordinary days where I can breathe and write and cook. These days that the cat is tongue-out curled on the couch and dinner is bubbling savory in the crock pot. These days when my husband snow-shovels himself out of a pile of papers. And JJ Heller worships in the background.

These days that our life is so glamorous, so ordinary, and so rich. And I am so aware of this very fact.

These days when the battle is ebbing in my favor.

Because I’m caught in an arena of a daily war, and it’s one of the most excruciating and exquisite battle of my life.

One one side? Discontent. Fear. Mistrust. Apathy. Disappointment. Angst. All fighting against Worship, Thankfulness, Trust, Rest, Courage, Passion.

I wake up to this every day: today, will I choose to trust God with this job – this job that is not me. This job that is life-draining. This job that takes me too far from home? Will I rest and wait and trust as He closes all other doors and holds me here?

This is a golden day.

But there are gray days, too. Days when I tantrum and bang on the doors of Heaven. Let me out now! The days when every rude customer, every conceited coworker, every dreaded commute and early alarm grate on frayed nerves and in a weary heart. 

And you know what?

It’s all been so good.

Remember Abraham, interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18)? He was so disturbed by the threat of destruction. What if there are 10 righteous, Lord? What then?

Usually, we talk about this passage and the power of prayer. But recently, from this arena, I’ve been seeing the story a little differently.

To talk about the power of prayer is to view the story from Abraham’s perspective. But God knew what was going to happen in Genesis 19. God saved Lot and his family and the cities were destroyed. And He never returned a report to Abraham concerning how many righteous people there were or weren’t to be found there. He just did and Abraham had to trust.

In fact, I think you could argue that God’s plan was way more merciful than Abraham’s plea. He saved Lot’s wife and daughters – women who were attached to their sinful city, who would get their father drunk to commit incest. Would they have been counted among the righteous? Would Lot have been?

Abraham’s request, by his perspective, was good. But he didn’t know all the factors, or the whole story.

And I’ve been thinking that I’m so glad I don’t serve a god that bends his will to my every request.

What if there are 10 righteous? What if I shouldn’t be here? What if there’s a better job? What if there’s a faster way to get out of this debt? What if we’d do better off Long Island?

My life would look very different if God bent to my every “what if.”

But I would have missed the battle, and the gray days. And without the those two, I would never find these golden days.

You see, God is stretching me into my true, pure, righteous, holy, best self. The overcoming Jenni. The Christ-like Jenni. I am becoming quieter, more trusting, more at rest, more compassionate, more gentle. The battle ebbs in my favor more often. He is wooing me into this desert and convincing me of his trustworthiness. I can say with more and more conviction, more and more often, that I would do anything for him for any length of time. Just if he asked.

My requests may be good. There might be another job, or a better way to pay off debt, or another place to go. But for now? And for always? Only He can see those factors. I don’t have the whole picture. God can see the Genesis 19 in my life already. He can see the Sodom and Gomorrahs crumbling in my heart, and he knows it is far better and more merciful than anything I could ask for or imagine.

I can only plead for the what ifs. But he is the I AM.

These are the golden days: that I am surrendered to the one who will give us the best, bring out the best, and do the best. Every. Single. Time.

No matter how it looks for feels now. He never gives us second-rate just to keep us happy and appeased. He gives us battles and wars and odd jobs.

Because these are for his glory, and our great joy.

These are the golden days.

credit Brandon Giesbrecht, Flickr Creative Commons
credit Brandon Giesbrecht, Flickr Creative Commons