A yowling cat, a rare disease, and restoration of amity
In just a little over a week, God has used a yowling cat to restore amity between neighbors and a rare disease to restore fellowship between friends.
I abjectly confess that we had been off speaking terms with our next-door neighbors for more than two years because we and they were equally convicted that our respective rights were more important than being neighbors.
But their daughter’s loud-voiced black cat went missing, and I’m simpatica when it comes to cats.
When I heard a yowling cat in my back yard and saw that it was black, I raced next door to hail my neighbor, thinking it was her daughter’s missing cat. But the cat, whose body type was not, after all, a match for the missing cat’s, didn’t stick around to be identified. My neighbor, however, hung out for a while and we chatted, recognizing we had at least one thing in common: neither of us was above appearing at each other’s door at 7:30 in the morning in hastily donned sweats and earrings.
My neighbor’s loud black cat remains on the lam, but we’ve resumed speaking and waving terms. We appreciate the fact that a lot of us are home during the day in our neighborhood, and that this should be a source of comfort, not of stress. Neighbors are essential to neighborhoods.
For lack of denominator data, which would be the total number of English-fluent female Reformed Christians on the planet, I have no way to calculate the odds of two women living within 30 miles of one another, meeting at a conservative Reformed seminary, becoming friends, and having the same life-torquing disease that occurs in 1 in 100,000 people. Add to that the variable that both have contentious temperaments that shredded their friendship for a couple of years.
My friend–I’ll call her Angela–has had Addison’s disease for many years; I was diagnosed just over a month ago. Of course I thought of her. Of course I thought with rue how our stupid puffheaded pride had separated us and how wonderful it would be to have a friend who understood the complexities of managing Addisons. But I didn’t need a friend who understood Addisons–I have an endocrinologist and a research-obsessed husband–I wanted Angela back. What a black hole my sin had left in my life that we had not reconciled! No: that I had not reconciled. Angela was very gracious the last time we saw each other at an event. I was hardhearted. Hideously so.
I no longer had Angela’s email address, and so I asked my husband to call her husband because I didn’t want to intrude suddenly if her health had declined. He tried several times, unsuccessfully. So I called a mutual friend who is a pastor, and asked if he would email Angela and give her my address in case she’d like to get in touch.
As I knew she would, Angela responded with warmth and contrition, and then I was able to respond in kind. We have both grown; God has leveled and mellowed us. He has helped us to devalue ourselves and value more what He values.
Sanctification actually does occur in one’s own lifetime. I don’t know why this always surprises me, but it does. And it’s worth a chunk of life, if that is the cost, to see it in the beautiful light of God’s amazing mercy and grace. That light is both hard and soft; it outlines and fills, tempers and sharpens. In Angela’s steadfastness I see Him altogether lovely: the very constellation of graces that keeps His unglorified Church together.