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Seeking to understand what lies beyond our comprehension

We have two cats. Well, actually we have four cats, but two are pretty much outdoor animals. One will stay overnight sometimes, but you get the feeling like he's just passing through. He only stops off at the familiar diner and might have too far to go that night to hit the road again.

So, these two cats that are indoor cats love each other. I would call them love BIRDS, but they would eat the birds, and they're really cats. They are love cats. One is grey and the other is black.

The grey cat is a female named Dixie, and she is very affectionate. She will follow me from room to room in the house, lay at my feet while I'm working on the computer, recline at the end of the bed while I'm watching television, or come right up and snuggle next to my face during the night, especially when it is colder in the winter. Sometimes I think she is part dog (but what an insult to a cat, right?).

The black cat is a male named Doodle, and he is devoted to Dixie. (We've had them both fixed so there won't be any Dixie-Doodles running around the place.) He follows her around the house. When she is lying down, he will often crawl right up on top of her as if she were a pillow. He will nuzzle next to her and bury his face in her side. He will lick her face and forehead and then stick his own face in hers for reciprocal treatment. If she is purring, he will purr in sync with her. He doesn't like being around humans too much unless Dixie is right there as well.

These two cats also play with each other. Sometimes they race through the house going up over the bed, over my face, over the headboard onto the top shelf in the closet, back down the bed and over my body to the floor and then sprint, claws scratching against carpet and tile, peeling out toward the front door where they turn the corner, head back up the hallway to the kitchen, turn the corner toward my office and up the bookshelves, back down the other side to the loveseat, and stop crouched a few feet from each other, ears pinned back, wild in the eye, staring each other down, quivering, haunches tense, until one of them takes off and then the race starts all over again.

It is my job to take care of these cats. I make sure their litter box is clean, and I feed them twice a day. I also make sure they don't run out of the house, no matter how much they might whine to accompany the two outdoor cats after they have finished eating, as they might get into trouble in the neighbourhood.

As my wife is away completing a coaching programme at the Department of Leadership at Duquesne University, we Skype every night, and it drives Dixie nuts. She can hear Linda's voice through the iPad as it sits cocked at a 45-degree angle in its dock, but she cannot see her. I don't believe she understands that the image she is seeing on the screen is the person she had experienced in full, embodied presence. There are some things a cat can understand, and there are other things that transcend a cat's capacity to comprehend.

I think that's the way it is also between human beings and God. God takes care of His creation. He feeds us, sending the rain on the good and the bad among us equally. In that regard His grace has common dimensions, and yet, there is also a sense in which some have greater privilege and live within the “house” as citizens of the Kingdom of God. As much as those people whine and try to run wild outside, He keeps track of them. They may run races around inside the house, but they don't go outside, and if they ever pull a fast one and sneak out when the door is ajar, He goes after them so that they do not get lost forever. Inside, they follow God around as devoted creatures who cannot fathom the true nature of the one they love. They would like to sit at His feet as He works and nuzzle up next to Him in the night when it's cold and dark. They would like to understand his ways, and they can frequently detect His voice, but they cannot see Him even when they are looking at His image.

St Paul described Jesus saying, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…” The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians said that Jesus is the radiance of God the Father's glory and the exact representation of His nature. One of the disciples once asked Jesus to show them the Father, and Jesus answered by saying, “I've been with you all this time and you do not know me? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

I think it would have been an astounding thing to walk around with Jesus when He lived on the Earth, but I suspect I would have been like a cat. I might have been able to hear His voice, but I would likely have failed to see the divine nature in Jesus. I think a lot of people failed at this. Pilate, for instance, asked Jesus what truth was, and Jesus responded that He was the way, the truth, and the life, but Pilate simply washed his hands of the whole business.

Many psychologists and philosophers believe that we do not see what is actually there, the objective world around us as it is. Rather, they believe we see what our frames of reference tell us is there — that we re-present phenomena to ourselves, interpreting sensations and perceptions as they come in so that in a sense we see what we want to see. I think there is more to it than that, but I also think there is something to that when it comes to the eye of faith and the creature's ability to perceive the Creator. It is what God told the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear…”

We see and we hear in accord with what we believe, not according to what is actually there — even while living in the house of God.

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Published October 15, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 14, 2013 at 6:46 pm)

Seeking to understand what lies beyond our comprehension

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