The three-year-old tabby is small for her age at only five pounds. Her dark-gray fur is striped in black with a lovely undercoat of coppery-gold and is surprisingly soft and thick, more like rabbit fur in winter.
Her round little head seems too small for her expressive and large oval eyes, especially when the pupils dilate—anxious at my approach. She is nearly feral and only partially tamed by the priest who cared for her. She needed food and protection from her own kind so he set up a covered cage on his deck where she could eat and sleep in safety. When I adopted her she had two sizeable infected wounds from being attacked by other stray cats and the trip to the vet was traumatic.
When I look at her tiny paws and miniature prick ears, somewhere deep inside a warm gentleness overtakes me. I want so much to cuddle this diminutive kitty and feel her warm purring body against my own. But she is small and frightened, so my patience is required. I have had her long enough that she no longer bolts from the room when I come with her food.
In order to move close to her as she shrinks into the corner I lay on my belly and scooch slowly across the floor, softly repeating her name “Georgia.” Extending my arm and petting her with two fingers, I must be very delicate with my touch. Too much pressure or too near and she’ll dart into hiding. When this happens I wait for her to regain her trust and return to me, that non-priest person.
What I have found works best is to sit on the floor near her with my open hand facing up and resting by my side, but where she is just beyond my reach. This one knows arithmetic well and can calculate exactly how far a human’s arm can reach! If I am patient she will often inch toward me, leaning into my open palm and choosing to feel my touch. She has then decided to be more accepting of my enormity in her little life.
I think of how God is just so with me, waiting patiently just beyond my reach for me to draw near. He waits, knowing I may bolt if I become sensitive to his approaching greatness compared to my littleness. His quietness draws me in as I trust the closeness of the hand that nourishes and protects. And I too, with desire overriding my fears, inch towards that loving touch.
Georgia only comes to me at night after I have settled in for sleep. She softly mews at the foot of the bed until I pull my hand out from under the blankets—palm up and fingers slightly curled. She then comes eagerly when I whisper her name. Curling up next to my hip, she rubs against my fingers a few times, places her round little head in the palm of my hand, and settles down. We both fall asleep in peace.
Copyright 2013 Margaret Rose Realy
Read more reflections and prayers by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, at Morning Rose Prayer Garden, on Patheos Catholic channel.