Friday, February 1, 2008

A Singular Gift

The picture is of my, now departed, Lucy. I loved that cat. She had such a personality. Now, my other siamese, Maddie, is near the end of her run. So, here I am thinking about death. And life. And love. And why. And... . Anyway, when Lucy died, three years ago, I wrote the following prose-poem. Again, it is deeply personal, so I beg your pardon and ask that you oblige me, or, simply, don't read it if you are repulsed by such sentimentality. But, I think that this poem succinctly confesses my understanding of man's relationship with the animal world, and with nature in general, that is why I share it with you.

A Singular Gift

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.” Genesis 1:27-28

Lucy, you were, and are, a precious gift of God.
You were preparation for a child when I was childless.
You were a reflection, a dim, but true, shadow of unconditional love and child-like faith.
God gave you to me, a gift, to love and to care for; you gave back to me, a gift, His love.
Your simple trust, innocence, and contentment are, for me, a symbol of the faith that God desires: simple, unencumbered, prepared to receive, content.

Nothing made you happier than to be with me, to knead your paws upon my middle.
Your eyes would close in blissful contentment and your purr would rumble from the depths of your happy heart.
You were gentle, loving, and gregarious beyond expectation of your breed.
You were a friend and a companion honest and true.

You did not withhold yourself from me, and, for six years, I did not withhold from you.
When the children came, you took a diminished place, as was proper and necessary.
Yet, in the quiet times, you were always ready to share time with me when I would share it with you.

Temptation to mourn the brevity of your life arises, naturally – but, what could that mean?
The time we had was the time that was given, and there is no other.
You were a gift, a singular gift – not even the most important gift – but a gift, nonetheless.
I thank my Father for you – for the time, and now, for the memories.
And I hope, that, in some unknown way, I was a gift of God to you.
I will remember you with tearful joy.
I love you, my Lu.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

As a cat owner/lover, and the daughter of an artilleryman, I found both of these poems very moving.

Fr. Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Thanks Anastasia. I am blessed to have just around the corner in the little village of Pawling, NY a Christian veterinarian. He has been a missionary to places like the Sudan and the Congo. He and I have had the opportunity to discuss man's relationship with animals in light of God's creative activity and purpose. He gives all "clergy" a PTL ("Praise The Lord") discount, very generous. That's the only way I could afford to care for my elderly feline Maddie. She was diagnosed with renal failure about 18 months ago. I've kept her alive, and feeling pretty good, all this time by giving her injections of sub-cutaneous fluids every night, to compensate for the reduced function of her kidneys. However, no creature lives forever (this side of heaven), and Maddie's days are very near an end. I am happy that my poems have touched another soul. Thanks again. Jon

Fr. J. Sollberger said...

I mused over similar thoughts when I lost old Charlie five years ago. I did some writing about it, but mostly I grieved. It gave me pause when I did, for as much as I loved and appreciated Charlie, I had never considered her a gift of God. But companionship and love are good gifts, and the Giver of all good things is our heavenly Father.

I grieved for Charlie more than most people I've grieved for. As recently as yesterday, the feelings of loss still touch me. Such is the way of it.

It's good to see Maddie as a gift - both now while she is here, and for later... Gifts are appreciated, and good, long after they're gone. Peace be with you, my old friend.