by Howard Hain
My daughter wants to be a cat.
Like with most kids, the formal structure of school, day after day, can create a desire to wander freely about the house, one hour into the next, no schedule or agenda, simply playing, humming, and exploring as she goes. A cat’s life viewed in this light can certainly seem attractive. Francesca loves the idea of staying home all day, sleeping soundly in sunny spots, and most of all, the tranquil adventure of discovering little nooks in order to curl up and hide away.
I don’t blame her. And she and I have discussed it several times. After all, the desire to curl up and hide away is pretty universal. It resurrects consoling memories and secure sensations: The womb. Fetal position. Warmth. Safety. Seclusion. Protection.
I think it’s safe to say that voluntary hiding spots—especially those involving blankets, quilts, pillows, and/or stacks of sweaters—invoke great emotional, psychological, and spiritual comfort. And physical comfort goes without saying.
I shared with Francesca a little secret. I want to be a cat too. Well, that’s not really the secret. This is: I am a cat. That got her attention—as displayed by a raised eyebrow and a curious smile. “No, it’s true,” I told her. “Especially when I go to church.” Now this really got her attention. “Yes, when I go to the chapel I become like a little cat…and during Mass I wander around the altar, slowly, very slowly, looking for just the right space to curl up and hide away. And I find it. I always find it. But I also have to wait for just the right time. Because this special little crevice is not always open.” She asked where it is. I let her in on it: “You know the gold box behind the altar?” Yes, she nodded. I told her it’s called the tabernacle, but this she apparently already knew, and she made a point of making that very clear. Well anyway, I asked her if she ever noticed that the tabernacle door was left open during a certain part of Mass. She acknowledged that she already knew this too, but this time with a little less certainty. “Well, that’s where I go,” I nodded. She smiled and made a funny face. “It’s true, I’m telling you…I wait for the door to open and then I quietly climb in.” She liked this. She really liked this. So do I.
She thought about it a little bit and had to confess that a cat would really love a little cozy space like that, especially our kitty named Clive. “He’d definitely try to get in there if the door was left open!”
But she was also a little curious if you could get stuck in there if the door was closed after you got in.
I assured her that God would never trap a kitty like that.
She agreed again.
“You’re right, Daddy, God would never trap a kitty, especially not with Jesus inside!”