Wednesday, June 04, 2008
This writing was prompted by Kathleen Norris' book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, where she defines tricky theological words in accessible ways. Here's my take on the troublesome "Born Again."
At your age, you are already counting lifetimes, like a cat. There have been changes and challenges that sent you tumbling out a second story window, twisting, arching, frantically clawing at air, as you made your way to a foot first landing, blinking at the impact, then trotting home.
How many times can one be born, again? How many times until you get it right, until you become the kitten that isn’t tossed into the river, or sent to live in the alley picking through trashcans? How many times until you become the kitten who is pulled out of the stream by the scruff, dried with a towel and placed against the chest of a person who is your Jesus, someone who will stroke you, pick off your fleas, and take you to the vet for shots and de-worming? How long until you find someone who will make room for a litter-box in their life, who will keep you even when you sharpen your claws on the carpet, will let you curl in their lap while they read the daily paper, will allow you to nestle at their feet on the quilt their grandmother pieced?
Do you count the lives in between your first birth and your new place, secure in the home of the someone who has taken you to heart? It’s up to you now. Stay out of the road, stay clear of traffic, keep your collar on, don’t wander up the hill where the coyote will devour you.
Do you know how much your Jesus loves you? If you disappear, they will put up signs, go door to door asking the neighbors if they’ve seen you, will search the roadside, comb the hillside, not wanting to give up hope that you are alive, believing you want to come home, but just aren’t able. They can’t search forever, but they will never forget you. They won’t know when or how to say goodbye, but they’ll try. Some days, the memory of your furry weight in their lap, the press of your cool and whiskery nose against their hand will flood through them, as you are born again, born anew into their hearts, love coexisting with pain, like a velvet curtain against a broken window pane.
All of it was worth it, then, being taken from your mother, tossed into a cardboard box, sold in front of the market for a dollar to a kid with gooey fingers. The hard work of finding your way since then, brushing against ankles for a bite of tuna, squirming out from hands so desperate for love, they squeezed the life out of you.
All of it was worth it, if in the end, or even somewhere in the middle, you are born again, into the heart and lap of someone who will love and remember you into eternity.