Her name was Mittens, appropriately bestowed on her in recognition of her four little white paws that perfectly decorated her otherwise black body. She was my roommate while I was in graduate school, my furry little companion in what was a large, drafty and often lonely apartment. Mittens was a bit of a funny little creature and developed some strange habits during our time together. One of these oddities was her love of jumping into the refrigerator whenever I opened it. There was plenty of room for her to jump right in, as I was, after all, a graduate student and had little to no time to ever cook a meal. My fridge was empty, bar a few liquids on the top shelf.
This particular day, I must have had an unusual amount of time on my hands, as I was embarking on the lofty goal of making mashed potatoes for dinner. That said, I’m ashamed to admit, I had to make a call home to get a walk through of the recipe(?) I picked up the phone, dialed home, walked over to the fridge to grab something out, noticed Mittens jump in and then shut the door and proceeded to enjoy a long conversation with my parents. My boyfriend at the time (husband now) was sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in his engineering studies and suddenly wondered why he hadn’t had a visual of Mittens in the last fifteen minutes or so. He broached the subject of her disappearance with me and I, in horror, ran over to the fridge, opened the door and out she popped. Cue boyfriend shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Whoops. Nine lives, minus one.
The little fur-ball also endured a few falls and her survival of the first is proof positive that cats always land on their feet. Mittens used to love sitting in an open window. She would perch herself right on the sill and lean her chubby body against the screen. I thought it rather funny one afternoon when I noticed the screen missing from one of the second floor windows. It took me a minute to sort it out, but once I realized what it all meant, I proceeded to run through the house screaming that Mittens had fallen out the window (I never did handle stressful situations well). Mom and I ran outside to see the screen lying on the ground, but no Mittens. It wasn’t long before we heard her cries from far up in a tree in which she fled out of fear and shock from her ordeal. Poor thing. Nine lives, minus two.
The second fall wasn’t quite as terrifying, but does merit mention. Mittens was, for the most part, an indoor cat. I was moving around a lot at that time and was afraid she would get lost with the change in surroundings. I did take her outside for walks, but kept her on a harness for fear of her running off. This particular day I was letting her enjoy the fresh air out on the deck. She had her harness on and was tied to the railing. (I feel it necessary to mention that her harness was not a leash around her neck, but rather went around her whole body). Curiosity got the best of her and she decided she just had to see what was on the other side. She sauntered right off the edge of the deck and was left swinging in the air until I reached over and grabbed her. Silly cat. Nine lives, minus three.
The loss of her fourth life was one of those things I just didn’t think I had worry about with a cat. I had left my water glass out on the table and Mittens jumped up and stuck her head right in. The glass was tall and slender and her head was, well, not. I found her flailing her furry head around in an effort to remove the glass that was suctioned around her little face. We got her out and she didn’t seem any worse for the wear. I however, was. Nine lives, minus four.
Ok, one last story. At this point you may be questioning why on earth I ever decided it was a good idea to have children. Fair enough, however there are two sides to every story and I’m standing firm in my claim that Mittens was unusually curious and not the sharpest tool in the shed. I can’t be entirely to blame for her more unfortunate experiences.
That said, the last of my stories pairs Mitten’s lack of prudence with her wonderment of the dancing golden light on the kitchen table. She decided to investigate and, it wasn’t until I questioned the source of the smell of burning plastic in my apartment that I rescued her from searing all of her whiskers right off. By the time I grabbed her away from the candle, I actually saw one of her whiskers curling right up as the heat snaked its way to her little pink nose. Seriously Mittens? Nine lives, minus five.
There have been plenty of times in my life where I’ve failed to land on my feet, so to speak. And curiosity definitely has its way of snaking into my life and resulting in less than intelligent decisions. Perhaps you can relate? There is ample opportunity to fall victim to our more selfish culture and waste away our days perched on the windowsill, content in our chosen ignorance. It’s so tempting to choose comfort over service, entertainment over quiet time in prayer, indulgence over sacrifice, gossip over truth, opinions over understanding, self over others. Before we know it, the screen gives way and we are falling from grace.
While we may not have the physical dexterity and finesse to survive a fall to the ground, we do have a ticket to another chance at life. Jesus bought us that ticket when He laid down His life on the cross. The gates of Heaven are opened to us and the promise of redemption is ours to keep. The celebration of Easter is the celebration of new life. It places before us the ultimate goal and reminds us what this life is all about; the falls, the suffering, the work; Jesus makes sense of all of it for us.
No matter how many times we fall, no matter how many times we take the wrong path or our curiosity gets the better of us, Jesus is waiting to pull us up and out of whatever trouble we have landed in. It’s amazing really. All we have to do is open our hearts to His love, honor the guidance He provides for us and we are promised to be made new again in a life that is better than we can even dream.
We had some fun adventures together, Mittens and me. All in all, I humbly submit that five out of nine ain’t so bad.
He has risen, Alleluia