The Christmas Cat

(Originally published on December 19th, 2011)

I’ve told you about the Christmas Dog. Today I have a Christmas CAT story to share… :)

A few days ago my son came home from his walk with Sam the Dog, to tell me that they’d found a bloodied little calico cat on the side of the road. She seemed to be injured, wasn’t moving much, had just enough energy to hiss at the dog, but not much energy beyond that. I grabbed a towel (the yellow Pittsburgh Steelers towel my dear in-laws from Pennsylvania sent us several years ago when the Seahaws and the Steelers were duking it out in some bowl game – I figured if any of my towels was going to end up bloody, it might as well be that one) and followed the son to the kitty.

She was curled up on the side of the road, not moving much – except for one twitchy ear. She hissed defensively when I reached down to hold her, but I wrapped her up in the towel so she couldn’t scratch and held her close to me. I told the son to get my car keys and purse and meet me at the car, and I slowly carried the kitty back to our house.

Once I was holding her, she stopped hissing and fidgeting, and when I sat down in the car with her, she relaxed against me, laid her head on my arm and began to purr as I petted her head and ears. As the son drove us to the vet’s I sang the song I’d once sung, years ago, to the Christmas Dog. “Everlasting arms of Love, are beneath, around, above…” (words by John R. MacDuff) and the kitty looked up at me with the same look of trust and love that the Christmas Dog had once shown me.

I’ll be honest, the picture was not pretty. She looked to have been hit in the head by a car. Her jaw was out of alignment, and her eyes were filling up with blood. In my thoughts, I tried to establish who this little kitty was, as an expression of God – tried to establish her in my thoughts as God’s perfect idea, held whole, complete, and untouched by accident, in the consciousness of Love. What gave me some courage and confidence about the whole situation was the kitty herself – she seemed totally calm, totally unaware that she looked a mess, and completely content just resting on my lap, wrapped up in the towel. She was…well…she was very matter of fact about it all, to tell you the truth.

When we got to the vet’s I carried her inside (she was still purring), and the dear receptionist and assistant there immediately, but gently, removed the cat from my arms and whisked her away to a backroom. Before I left her there, they told me that a microchip had been found on her and that they’d try to contact the owners. I told them that if they couldn’t find the owners, I’d be willing to take responsibility for the kitty. (In the short drive to the vet’s she’d already managed to capture my heart.)

The next morning I called the vet’s to get an update, and was relieved to learn that the kitty was still alive, was actually doing “pretty good,” and was still purring. The owner had come in and decisions were being made as to how to proceed regarding the kitty’s jaw, which had been shattered.

This morning, on our way to church, we noticed our next-door neighbors had a sign in their front yard that read “Slow down” and we wondered if there might be some connection between that sign and the kitty-cat we’d found near their house two days ago. Tonight I knocked on their door and found that they were, indeed, the owners of that sweet kitty. They brought me in to look at her. She was snugly ensconced in a kitty carrier, half-dozing, and looking much better than she did when I first met her. The neighbors were happy to learn that I’d been the person the doctor had referred to as “The Good Samaritan” – “Mystery solved!” said Robert with a grin – and I was happy to learn that my neighbors were the owners of that dear kitty – I know she’s in a good home if she’s living with them.

And here’s the really cool thing: Because the little calico cat lives right next door to me, I’ll get to see her all the time!

Post Script: A year has passed since I originally published this post. The calico cat still lives next door to us and she is one of the sweetest, friendliest little cats I have ever known – she comes over and visits with us a couple times a week, lets herself be picked up and petted, and has even wandered into our home once or twice. And she’s still purring… :)

Joy! Peace! Good will to all (and I’m not just talking those with two legs)!

(excerpt from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book)

T’was a Week Afore Christmas

T’was a week afore Christmas and we finally got our tree -
a Turkish fir that looks a picture of evergreen royalty.
It’s covered in doodads – the sons’ pre-school pop sickle art,
students’ gifts, and momentos you can’t buy in a mart.

Gift-wrapping and ribbons litter the floor,
duct tape’s in the wings if we need something more.
The dog’s got her antlers on, the cat’s asleep by the fire,
the holiday letter’s written, the elves have all been hired.

And so we say bring on Christmas! We’re ready. Or mostly.
The fire’s in the woodstove, and we’re feeling really toasty.
Let’s top the cocoa with whipped cream, and put the cookies on the plate.
Santa’s coming soon and when there’re cookies she’s never late! :)

- Karen Molenaar Terrell

green shoes Christmas

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a tree…”

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a tree,” Alain Le Goff liked to say…

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Photo of 700 year-old tree at Deception Pass, Washington by Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Look how they’re working …They’re linking the earth to the sky. That’s very difficult, son. The sky is so lightweight that it’s always at the point of taking off. If there were no trees, it would bid us farewell …You can see that the trunk of a tree is a thick rope. Sometimes there are knots inside. The strands of the rope work themselves loose at each end so that they can fasten onto the sky and the earth. At the top they’re called branches, and at the bottom, roots. But it comes to the same thing.”– Pierre-Jakez Helias, Horse of Pride

I love trees. They give us shade, shelter, and oxygen. They hold the soil to the hillside, fruit on their branches, and our tire swings above the ground.

Down the road from our house is a tree that I’ve come to think of as “The Giving Tree” – there are now two honey bee nests thriving inside its trunk, a little gardner snake home at its base, and a bird’s nest at the top…

Every year a little fir tree on the path along Bellingham Bay slowly begins accumulating Christmas decorations on its branches. Why this particular tree was picked to be the path’s annual Christmas tree, I do not know. But she’s a very jaunty little tree, and it brings me great joy to contribute to her Christmas finery, and to see her all gussied-up for Christmas.

Christmas tree 2

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55: 12

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psalms 1: 3

green shoes Christmas

(all photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

 

A Humongo Super Snowball of Kindness

‎”Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

I’d like to talk for a moment about kind people.

A week ago on my way to work I found I had a little extra time so I decided to stop at the local Starbucks to get a mocha for myself. As I was walking into the coffee shop a gentleman with a pack on his back approached me and started to make small talk. It came to me to ask him if he’d like a mocha and he said that would be fine. So I went into the Starbucks and ordered mochas for the both of us. And then I thought he might appreciate a scone, also. So I told the young woman behind the counter that I wanted to buy a scone for the man in the parking lot, to go along with the mocha I was buying him. The barista smiled and told me she wasn’t going to charge me for the scone – that would be on her. Her generosity – and the happy smile that accompanied her gesture – really touched me. I brought the man his scone and mocha – he was appreciative – and I drove on to work with a big grin in my heart.

A couple days later I found myself in another very similar situation. This time I was walking down the boardwalk to Boulevard Park in Bellingham when I spotted a young man leaning against the rail, holding a big duffel bag, and looking out towards the water. He appeared to have tears in his eyes. “Are you okay?” I asked him, and he nodded his head yes. I asked him if he’d like a warm drink from the Woods coffee shop in Boulevard Park, and he smiled and said, “No, but thanks!” I went on into the Woods any way to get myself something to drink, and when I came out the young man had moved down towards the park. He looked totally dejected. I don’t know what was going on with him, and didn’t ask. But I took one look at him, and said, “I really think you could use this more than me,” and handed him the warm drink. This time he didn’t refuse it – he smiled a genuine smile – his whole face lit up – and took the proffered cup into his hands and thanked me. I left him and went back into Woods to get myself another drink. The barista recognized me, and I explained what had just happened. She smiled and said, “This one’s on us!” and made me another drink for free!

Another day – this one cold, dark, dreary, and pouring down rain – and another espresso – this time The Sisters Espresso, an espresso run by two of my favorite people – Brooke, who used to be one of my eighth graders (and is now in her thirties – which… how the heck did THAT happen?!), and her sister, Courtney. They have these really awesome locally-made marionberry cobbler squares at The Sisters and I was waxing all poetic about these little pieces of heaven to the young man standing in front of me at the counter getting himself a drip coffee. He said he’d have to try one next time. He looked to be wearing outdoors working duds, and I asked him about that. He said he was going to be doing work in an apple orchard that day. “In the pouring rain?!” I asked, and he smiled and said yes. My heart went out to him, but he just smiled at my concern. When it came time for him to pay for his coffee, he told Brooke to put a marionberry square for me on his bill!  I think my mouth fell open a little. “Really?! Are you sure?!” I asked him. And he smiled and said he wanted to do that for me. And I ask you: How cool is that?!

Yesterday, I made a stop at our little Bow post office to pick up my mail and mail some packages. It was busy. Mary the Post Office lady (and I feel so blest we have her taking care of us – she is a treasure) probably didn’t get a break yesterday. I was at the end of the line with no one behind me – and I was glad about that because I was mailing something off to Canada, and that always involves a boatload of customs forms and stuff. By the time I reached the counter, though, people started trickling in behind me and the line started growing and growing and growing – and I was feeling responsible for this. But the guy behind me told me not to worry – he said he was retired and had all the time he needed – and the people behind him were all smiling at me, too – and then someone said something about singing carols – so there we were, singing carols, gabbing and laughing. Mary handed me some papers I could work on at the side while she helped other people – so I went off to the side and started filling out these forms. And now I was talking to myself – “Okay, Karen, so now you write down your address… good… and the weight of the items… they need to add up to 2 lbs 11 oz… 8 plus 8 equals a pound, and then add another pound, and this one is 11 ounces…” and I told the other customers that I’d heard talking to yourself is actually a sign that you trust yourself. One of the other customers piped up, “I’d always heard it was a sign of insanity!” And I said, “That, too!” and we shared a laugh.

I know there may seem to be reasons to be discouraged with our world – if we turn on the news we hear about murder and thievery and war and pestilence and greed. But I think if we all take a moment to really look around us – to connect and banter and laugh with our fellow man – we’ll find there’s also a lot of reason to be encouraged by our world. There’s so much goodness here. There’s generosity, and good humor, and kindness all around us – quiet, unobtrusive, often unnoticed – but, I believe, growing in power – like a little snowball that’s quietly rolling down the hill, picking up more snow as it goes until it’s a humongo Super Snowball of Good. Yeah. Like that. :)

Brooke and Courtney

Brooke and Courtney at the Sisters Espresso