Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Friday, February 17, 2006

Argghhhh!

Ever have one of those days where you just wish you hadn't got out of bed? I'm having one, unfortunately my argghhh is more than just one day, it's been more like a month. A friend called me today wondering how I was doing (I had spoken to her last night and related how upset I was at one of the particular issues with which I'm struggling right now). All I could say is that one more problem had been added to the pile- the wonderful folks in my homeowners association turned off the water to my house last night, and the houses of 7 others in order to fix a water leak. The bad part was that they had again not informed me prior to doing this so I didn't get to fill my bathtubs with water. ("You weren't home, so we couldn't tell you", but they didn't leave a note either.)
The association president and one of the resident busybodies were standing near the broken pipe site talking to the plumber when I came by.
"It'll be at least a couple of days before you have water again," they stated gleefully- neither of their homes are affected by the shutoff.
"Great! What am I supposed to do in the meantime?" I replied woefully.
That's when they said that if I'd been home when they came around to alert me, I could've filled my tub.
"What do want us to do?"
"Get it fixed right, like it should've been the first time," I retorted, pointing out we had the same problem for three days just a few months ago.
"Oh, this is a different problem."
"I don't care -you wouldn't allow your water to be off for three days while you waited for a repair," I said as I left them behind, knowing that our president had the plumber out very early Sunday morning for his own water leak he had last year.

As I've said, this is just another straw on the proverbial camel's back with my cat dying, my roommate sick, I've been sick, we are moving out of our building at work (this deserves a blog entry of its own), my dad has surgery but doesn't tell me, conflicts and drama at church...what else am I going to have to deal with? I feel like Charlie Brown, lying on his back after another of his failures and just saying, "ARRRGGGHHH!"

Friday, February 10, 2006

Through a Glass Darkly Defined

At least once a week I have someone find me by Googling the name of my blog which is "Through a Glass Darkly"; this phrase comes from 1 Corinthians 13:12, a chapter people normally look to for God's word on the subject of love. What Paul was trying to communicate is that our vision of what really is happening in God's world is darkened, darkened by living in an imperfect world, darkened by sin and by our own human limitations. Another way of putting it is to say that we see our real selves the same way one would see their physical appearance when looking into a messed-up mirror-one covered with grime, distorted and defective. The idea of the rest of the verse is that one day, when we stand before Jesus, all the obstacles to our perfect vision will be gone. We will have a full and complete knowledge of all things, including a perfect knowledge of and love for one another.

Today though, we live in that dark place, between the now and the not yet. We don't understand yet what God is doing, we hide from Him and each other the same way Adam & Eve hid after their sin in the Garden of Eden. Sometimes just the circumstances of this life can make everything seem so dark. For me, that now is especially dark this week. Many of my readers are aware that I'm a cat person, well, my 16 year old tabby died Thursday (as I recorded in my previous post). Death, even death of a pet stinks and is a distortion of what God intended. The death of His friend Lazarus caused even the Son of God to weep. All the pain, all the suffering because human beings traded God's perfect plan in Eden for the Serpent's promise of opened eyes and god-like wisdom. In reality, their knowledge was not enhanced by eating the fruit, but was instead darkened. Only through the restoration and redemption provided by Jesus Christ is that glass undarkened.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Very Sad Day

Exactly 21 years ago today, my cat Teener died in a termite tent accident. This morning, I came downstairs to find my cat Augustus dead and cold. Gus' death, unlike Teener's was a long time coming; he had been sick, probably with liver cancer, for months. The medication he was given to cure his chronic diarrhea did nothing and so three weeks ago we decided to take him off them. At first, he seemed to rally as he was no longer bombarded with mega-doses of antibiotics, but then came the total loss of bowel control and his confinement to the kitchen lineoleum. Last week he lost his appetite and finally this week he stopped drinking water on his own.

Although hesitant to do so, I was prepared to take him to the vet and put him down. Laura, however, describes herself as radically pro-life and does not believe in the practice of euthanasia. We then decided to make him as comfortable as possible with pain killers. This seemed to help him sleep better and not cry out in pain.

Last night we knew the end was near as his breathing became slower and more shallow -he lay very still as the pain medicine did its work. Sometime between midnight and 6am, he died. We took off his collar, placed him in a box and entrusted his body to the vet's assistant as the tears rolled down our cheeks.

As I reflect on his nearly 16 years of life, I remember he and his brother Julius as little kittens that were dumped off at my Grandma's house; they were so cute. Grandma wanted to keep them herself, but knew at her age, they would outlive her. She was right of course-she died before her 95th birthday nearly 8 years ago (Julius died the following year). She kept them for us until they were about six months old when we moved into our new house, had them fixed and declawed. She even provided a monthly room and board subsidy until my aunt took over my Grandma's bill paying and stopped it.(of special irony -the amount I paid to the vet today was the same as their monthly "allowance") Grandma spoiled the boys so much that it was hard to break them of certain behaviors - she fed them cow milk and let them do as they pleased. It was Gus that climbed up on the stove and nibbled away the top layer of the holiday cornbread.

Gus was always more of Laura's cat than mine. He preferred to lay on her while Julius used me as his cat bed. Both boys never liked store-bought toys; Julius liked to play with a pecan while Gus like to chase the shadow of a stick. When Juey got sick with cancer, Gus adopted "sympathetic" bad behavior, marking his territory eventhough he had never done that before. We cured Gus of that behavior by setting up a ladder in my bedroom that he would climb to reach the upper ledges below the vaulted ceiling; he would run around the edges, squealing with delight, being "chased", as it were, by his invisible ghosties. He cried mournfully when his brother had to stay at the hospital overnight for treatment. When Juey got better, Gus was there to play bite him in the "private parts" (or what was left behind after neutering) and take it in stride when his brother returned the favor.

Gus was always a biter. When he was little and teething, we called him "Vlad the Impaler" for his vampire-like way of biting a cardboard box. He would slowly bite down leaving a perfect bite impression. He would then slowly unbite the box, move to an unbitten portion and repeat the process. We had numerous cardboard boxes with his unique perforations left behind. Just a few weeks ago, I was reminded of what a good biter he was when he bit me rather than the piece of salmon I held for him in my fingers.

Laura had dubbed him "The Love Kitty" because of the way he was so lovable with her. He was, as I stated earlier, sympathetic to others; he tended to his sick brother. When Juey finally died, Gus walked the house mournfully crying for his brother. Sometimes I wondered if his plaintive cries out the window weren't calls for his brother and friend.

These past few years, Gus had slowed down a bit; he couldn't climb the ladder anymore and jumping on top of the refrigerator from the counter was more of a distant memory. He would still wanted to sneak outside when he had the chance and would beg to be taken for walk outside on his leash. He had a long full life with fairly good health until these past few months. As I said in the last post, one day we will have new kitties and new adventures, but today I mourn the loss of my furry friend.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sadness Approaching

My roommate Laura has posted quite eloquently about our dying cat Augustus. Laura describes herself as "radically pro-life" and so her conscience does not allow her to take the life of one of God's creature for our own convenience, hence we have not yet put him down.
Although I don't exactly adhere to such a strict pro-life view when it comes to animal life, it is still an overwhelming circumstance for me -Gus is the first pet I really have had to seriously make a decision about. Gus' brother died of natural causes 7 years ago; my sister's cat wandered off to die of old age five years after the cat's sibling, my cat, died when the house was termite-tented. My dog Amie also died in her sleep.
Each animal when they finally died, caused me to grieve deeply. One friend remarked that I seemed more upset at the loss of a pet than I have been for some of my relatives when they died. I think this is a reflection of my understanding of the nature of human death versus animal death. For humans, specifically Christians, death is not an end, but merely a temporary separation from their brothers and sisters left here on earth. But when our pets die, there is no comfort that we will surely see them again, there is no promised resurrection to eternal life. They only live on in our memories -the funny times, the warm kitty laying on my chest after a hard day at work, the hungry cat waking me up early to be fed -will soon be only a memory. Yes, one day I will have new kitties and new memories, but for now I'm in the midst of a drawn out and painful goodbye to an old friend I've known for nearly 16 years.