I want to share how I learned about prayer from a most unlikely source – a little Calico kitten.
A kitten, you ask? Yes, when I was living in Indiana, little Calie came to stay with me when her folks went away.
My first lesson from Instructor Calie began on the afternoon I decided to stretch out on my bed to relax and to pray. “How good it is to be with You. How good it is to be with You” was my mantra, repeated over and over in God’s presence. While I was doing this, the kitty jumped up and placed herself on my belly. Her deep purring felt that she was saying to me, “How good it is to be with you. How good it is to be with you.” I felt sheer joy at her reaching out to me. It occurred to me that God might be just as pleased with me when I place myself in the Almighty Presence and purr, “How good it is to be with You. How good it is to be with You.” The kitten had taught me a lesson in contemplative prayer.
Through little Calie I learned something else about the Presence of God – about God’s being present to me, and I to God. I was conscious of Calie’s presence at all times, especially when she was sitting in my lap, purring (praying?) When she was silent, or in another room, or otherwise not making her presence known to me, I was even more conscious of her presence. On the other hand, this little bundle of fluff was giving me the example of choosing to be in God’s presence. Most of the time, if I moved to another room, she’d be there before I could set foot across the threshold! She wanted to be in my presence! If I left the house, she was right there at the door waiting for me to return. God is ever present to me, and I to God. As a wise person once asked, “If God seems far away, who do you think moved?”
The little kitty also led me to understand prayer of petition. Was not Calie petitioning me when she constantly plagued me for scraps of food whenever I was eating? Wasn’t she acknowledging her need and desires, making them clear to me? Did I answer her prayer? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes maybe, depending what the food was. Was it something I knew was not good for her? If so, I did not give it to her. Or I might delay and give it to her later. Did she understand this behavior on my part? Probably no more than I do when my prayer of petition is apparently unanswered, or answered in a way I did not expect.
We had truly bonded, this little kitty and I. I perceived that she was treating me as her god and provider. And I experienced what I think was unconditional love for this little creature.
Yes, the little kitty taught me a lot about prayer.