Felix, my daughter's cat, is staying with us from Thanksgiving till her return for Christmas. His groove fitting in has brought tumultuous reactions from Bonnie our resident cat. Felix brands his own sense of inclusivity. He thunders through the house chasing Bonnie only for her to lie in ambush plotting to jump him in defense. He bounces, leaps, swats, irritates, and generally recreates Bonnie's otherwise serene state of mind. Before Felix, Bonnie's greatest concern was her feeding schedule. Since Felix, she has stared chaos in the face, knows its name to be Felix, and now she spends time looking rather confused.
Felix's past summer defined the realm of out of control. His housemate, Gwen, recovered from surgery removing cancer in her hind leg. The onslaught of anxiety and trauma inflicted on the little house due to Gwen's battle with this fear inducing disease threw his world into an unsafe feeling of being lost. Felix suffered and became insecure increasing his obnoxious capacity as a result.
Of course, I get the calm side of Felix. When I am getting ready for work, he joins me curling up in the sink. He sits with me and enjoys being quiet together. His sense of balance is beginning to return and after a couple of weeks, Bonnie's hissing has diminished as well. In the midst of turmoil, a sense of peace has been found when life seemed too much for a little kitty.
Each year, about this time, my thoughts turn to the Nativity. I find much comfort and balance when considering the weight a young woman named Mary carried to bring peace into the world. I imagine her, nine months mysteriously pregnant, on a 13 day journey riding a donkey because the government decided to organize the citizenry forcing the march to her husband's homeland. Nothing was prepared there for her. No room, no family, no plan met her in her last days before giving birth. Can there be a more disconcerting moment for a new mother than to have nothing ready for her child?
Thinking only of Mary's ride on the donkey brings a tremendous sense of discomfort. I rode on a motorcycle cross continent once when I was newly pregnant. I frequently wanted to stop and didn't feel well. She sat, swollen belly pushed into her diaphragm, being rocked and shifted across the road with numerous hoards able to move faster and claim what rentals awaited in Bethlehem.
The noise stands out to me. The noise not just of the travel and bustle of people, but the internal noise of questions, concerns, doubts, fears that seem to fall down upon me each December. The noise that quietly shouts, "How much more?" Mary heard that strain as well. She was human asked to take on the responsibility of nurturing the ancient prophecy. Everything must have seemed rather out of control.
I look to her example when I set up the Nativity. The artist painted her face as placid and pretty. She seems passively resigned, but that can't be her whole story. What I need to see is the heart of a mother learning that her sacrifice is going to be all right and that her family is going to make it through.
Mary's song to me in the days of December is one of ultimate grace and guidance. There is peace to be found even in the night belonging to chaos and change. There is hope to be had even this year in 2020.