Friday, January 31, 2014

Of good soil and talking cats

I sit across from my spiritual director, a young nun in her 70s.

I tell her about my children's silence. How I sow words in the dark. Without knowing the questions they carry or the misinterpretations they take away from me. Or even if they're listening. How I throw out advice about friendship, sex, faith, money, how to clean a toilet, and hope at least a handful of my words fall on good soil.

What is their good soil? What's yours?

I have no idea what she's talking about. I know bad soil: misunderstanding, discomfort, unreadiness, hopelessness, rejection.

What's your good soil?

Her elderly cat Precious, no larger than a kitten, enters the room and rubs against my pant hem.

Call her.

I pat my lap, whisper Come. She looks up at me.

She knows when the timing is right.

I reach down and stroke her back, her belly.

What's happening between you and the cat? 

Precious glides back and forth across my legs, but she isn't coming up. She's purring.

I don't have words for it, I say.

Aha, my nun says. Now you've finally gotten out of that over-thinking head of yours into something deeper. 

She cups her hands in front of her chest. There is a connection beyond words. That's your good soil. 

That's my children's.


My son and I sit shoulder to shoulder, leaning over clay bowls of soggy Mini-Wheats. 

That's my story about how a cat spoke. That's how I know I'm a good mom and you're going to be just fine, even when all I hear is "I duh know." 

He smiles that crinkled smile that makes his eyes vanish. And then he tells me something about his day. 

The timing is right.

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