28 November 2019

Giving thanks for small things


Often I wake up with our two adopted kittens arranged on each side of me. But as soon as I stand up, they like to climb up my clothes until they reach my shoulders, at which point they put their little noses on my earlobes, or else they begin batting at each other around my neck.

I suppose there's absolutely nothing new about kittens being adorable. It's not even original to derive some life lessons from their cute behavior. Still, I'm going to try to express a lesson they've taught me. What follows is the substance of what I said at Ramallah Friends Meeting last Sunday.

It's the kitties' habit of climbing up the Johan tower that started this chain of thoughts. I'm not sure why they do it; there's no food when they reach the top. They just seem to like being up there. The fact that it's a regular routine might be part of what comforts or pleases them.

Of course I eventually have to sit down, and then they're content to sit on my lap, and after a bit more batting each other they settle down for naps.

I'm now 66 years old, and I've had the good fortune of doing and learning many interesting things. But in God's scale, maybe I'm no more than just a little kitten. Daily I make my climb up the prayer mountain to enjoy God's company. To be honest, I also sometimes find myself trying to bat away the distractions that try to get their claws in me.

I do a lot of climbing every day. Physically, I have to climb up the steep path to the kindergarten housed in the Ibrahimi Mosque complex. The prayer path is also sometimes steep. (Last night I spent most of the night at a home demolition, a topic I'll return to in another post, but you can imagine how that might lead to some spiritual questions.) But when the outward prayer and reading time is over, I need to remain in that place. I need to center down still further and spend a few minutes in God's lap.

I realized, sitting quietly in the Ramallah Friends Meeting, that this little group of Quakers has  represented a special place for me to get away and be with God in the company of others, in accordance with a regular routine. It's a safe place for me to be nothing more than a little kitten, resting in the presence of the Creator. I am not nearly as cute as our baby cats, but Friends seem to welcome me anyway. And after we greet each other in the entryway, we are ready to experience together that ancient rhythm: the prayer path, steep as that path may seem after some of what we experience in a typical week, but also the time of total rest as we remember God's promises together.

Thank you, Ramallah Friends, for representing Jesus' promise of rest -- maybe something like the lap of God that I can climb into every week. And thank you, kittens, for your trust and affection and sheer playfulness, and for deepening my perspective on life with God.



More reactions to last week's announcement by the U.S. secretary of state on settlements and international law: Aaron David Miller and Daniel Kurtzer; Kairos Palestine. (On Kurtzer and Miller, Helena Cobban has some tart words to say.)

David Swartz on how cultural divisions within evangelicalism help explain the dramatic differences in attitudes toward Trump.

How should we remember John Winthrop and the Puritans?

Amazing images of Mars from the Curiosity rover. (Video.)

Foreign agents in Russia: Selective enforcement is one thing, but legislation that encourages selective enforcement is something new.



Magic Slim ... I miss him.

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