Monday, January 25, 2010

Handsomey Cat

Handsomey Cat

“Oh,” Robert said, stroking the cat’s back, feeling the luxurious softness deep in his chest. “You are such a handsomey cat!” His voice was low and deep. Hollowing his fist, he gripped Buster’s tail lightly and slowly pulled upward. The purr rumbled deep in Buster’s throat. “Oh, yes,” Robert said, making a hollow fist with his other hand, running Buster’s tail through it then alternating, one hand over the other, enjoying the sensation of supple softness. The cat arched his back and flipped his tail back and forth.

Oh, this was soo good! And the cat was always there too, waiting right outside the front door. The luxurious feel of fur, the intimacy, effortless responsiveness and open defenselessness of the animal was seductive. Every morning before running, no matter how scheduled the day ahead was. Robert made time to be with Buster.

Five months ago, when their relationship began, Robert would stand, hands at his sides as Buster approached in narrowing circles until the cat rubbed Robert’s shin. Now, Robert sat on the rose-colored slate-paved driveway, a few feet from the front door, left leg forming a triangular opening the cat liked to go in and out of, while Buster stood, facing him, front paws on Robert’s right thigh, face just inches from Robert’s own.

“You are such a handsomey cat.” Buster meowed. “And you speak cat so well!” It felt good to praise the cat, sacred, somehow. Stroking Buster, feeling the softness, the flesh beneath and the firmer muscles and bones beneath that, grounded Robert, made him both more real and more other, more connected to everything and nothing, more deeply sensual and fleshy, and more ethereal, too. Time stood still, thinking, counting, planning and proving ceased in those luxurious strokes.

Robert had had dogs before. Buster was his first cat. He wasn’t actually Robert’s cat. Buster belonged to a woman across the street, two doors down. Dogs were fun and responsive, but not like this cat. Buster was more independent than his dogs had been. He required space, even respect. The cat was more self-contained, quieter, more focused and intense than any dog, and appreciated Robert’s attentions more, positively basking in the stroking.

That and the purring, the rumbling, deep in Buster’s throat, audible two feet away, made Robert want to play with him. No, not ‘play’ with, be with. Robert found himself wanting to please Buster, to repay him for the wonderful luxurious, sensual spirituality Robert felt deep in his chest as Buster moved under Robert’s hands. The animal was so other! And those eyes – all black pupil in the dark of early morning, then concave green in the full daylight.

“Handsomey, handsomey cat,” Robert praised, putting his face close to Buster’s feeling the long whiskers touch his cheek. He ran his open hands along the cat’s grey tiger-striped flanks. Buster shifted, moved and arched into the stroking and brought his face closer to Robert’s. “Handsomey, handsomey cat.”

Wait. Hold on. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. Not for Robert Franks, anyhow. Certainly not for Bob Franks on a day with a full schedule. There was a Chamber meeting at 7:30, just two hours from now. No way could he do his mile and a half race walk, meditate, tai-chi, eat shower and shave and be there on time. He’d have to skip the tai-chi and eat a couple of pieces of toast in the car.

“Meow,” Buster said, turning his back on Bob and moving away. He reached out as Buster stepped forward and stroked his tail. “My, my soo furry and twisty! Just a couple more strokes.” The cat sat down and gazed at him. Bob stroked him with both hands. Enough. Gotta get going.

Easy. What’s more important, staying on schedule, keeping your word, being successful? Buster purred and put his front paws on Bob’s knee. Or, just being; just being here and petting this cat? Bob sighed, deeply. Why does it have to be ‘either/or’; why can’t it be ‘both/and’? Why can’t I sit here with the cat and be successful? Does there have to be a trade-off? No. But the extra time would have to come from somewhere. He’d have to get up earlier; or give up something.

The cat’s purr was louder. He turned his little head and looked Robert directly in the eyes. Bob rubbed him behind his ears. Buster tilted his head and Bob caressed him under the chin with his index finger. How good! Being here with this cat, empty of everything but this calm, interactive sensuality was like God soothing him; allowing him the grace of just being and enjoying, of not having to rush, push or prove anything. Like God petting him. Yes.

He was allowing God’s attention, as Buster allowed his attention. As he waited patiently for Buster to turn, arch his back, swirl his tail, so he could stroke and caress him; so God waited patiently as he, Bob Franks, rushed, pushed and tried to prove his worth so that He could share His grace. As his relationship with Buster evolved and the trust grew so that now, Buster came right up to him without a lot of wary circling and evasive moves; so Bob’s relationship with God was evolving and he could accept the grace and benign attention without the wary circling of ritual, guilt and fear. Wow!

As he waited on Buster, delighting in allowing the cat to take charge and make the first moves; enjoying not being in his usual masculine ‘take charge’ mode; so perhaps God was delighted to let Bob be in charge and choose to come to Him. Yes.

What if God was different than Bob’s image of him? What if God wasn’t masculine at all; didn’t have the ‘take charge’ mode everyone thought He had? What if God had no gender at all, but was a benign loving power, always there, always waiting for us to choose It and It’s grace? That just as Bob gave Buster the power to make the first move, so God gave Bob the same power; and all Bob or any of us had to do, now or anytime, was simply choose God, It – this wonderful, sensual feeling of being safe, secure, petted and loved? Wow! What if? Oh, he was such a handsomey cat!

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