Murray the Kitten Teaches Me About Compassion

January 30, 2008

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So, we took in a foster cat named Murray last summer after another foster home said that he was impossible to tame. He was found on the streets of Dorchester, MA as a kitten and all the cuddling of him didn’t seem to work like it did with other kitties. He is the only kitten we’ve ever had to wear gloves with because of biting. But he has improved. He even purrs sometimes when we pet him when he is half-asleep and he ADORES our semi-outcast cat, Gustav who none of the other cats like so well.

June passes, as does July. Come Christmas, Murray is still happily living with us, only letting us touch him when he is sleeping or eating, of course making it impossible to adopt him to a permanent home.

Wolfgang says to me, “Murray is such a cute little dum-diddle-dum.” Just sort of wandering through life, not knowing how good he has it, maybe not the brightest cat ever, and with this funny little waddle where his legs sort of fly out in every which way. But he loves Gustav so much and snuggles up to him and is clearly a happy little guy, enjoying eating a lot, and taking 8 naps a day.

Come mid-January, we are saying, “Gosh, do you think something is wrong with Murray’s legs? His walk does seem to get worse.”

And come yesterday, Murray was running away from me and he legs got all tangled up and he fell. Maybe just a slip?

Then eating his breakfast this morning, his legs were slipping out from under him. The vet said it isn’t an emergency, and tomorrow will be just as fine as today so we take him in tomorrow. I’m not sure if this is because they were just too busy and figured it is so dire, what difference does a day make? (Preliminary internet searches don’t paint a promising picture of back leg problems in cats.) But we can only go to this one vet because he only charges the shelter we volunteer for half-price, so we just wait until tomorrow.

As I was trying to lure Murray out from under the bed to check on him, I realized how much he has taught me. Wolfgang and I are just so worried about him. We want to make sure he isn’t in pain. Enough to eat? Does he want to rest in the nice warm cat bed by the heater? We want everything to be okay with him and for him to live a happy, good life. And it just made me think about all the animals that have sweet little personalities just like Mr. Murray who suffer so much and never get the sort of love and kindness that Murray has been able to get – Murray brings out the love in us – the caring, the compassion, and the selflessness. No small task to bring that out in humans which, in some respects, have a spotty record of caring, compassion, and selflessness, this human included! But, Mur says, “Hey, even though you were planning on going to a class at 1:30 tomorrow, this is the only time the vet could see me so you’ll just have to not take that class.” In their own ways, animals and other dependent creatures (like human children) call us to be our best selves – to care for those who need caring for, to attend to suffering, to give love.

For me, care for Murray and care for the suffering of other animals that have the ability to suffer are such important parts of my faith and my life. I know I am not a perfect and it is just a little part I can do. But, as much as it hurts me to see Murray’s little legs, I am so happy to be able to care for him, take him to the doctor, and give him extra treats. I just feel like so often we say, “Oh, what can we do about all the suffering of the world? All the misery?” And our little animal friends are sometimes teachers to us if we are wiling to listen.

So thanks Murray for letting me love you. And thanks for reminding me to love all animals the best I can who suffer just like you do with your little legs. I hope it is nothing and the vet makes you better.

Love, Elizabeth


It’s that time again. UU Blog Awards

January 24, 2008

It is time for the UU Blog nominations and awards! How about that. First, I just want to encourage bloggers to highlight their favorite posts of the year because I went to go nominate people and then it became a huge hassle to try to go back to my favorite blogs and find favorite posts. You are doing us all a favor by highlighting your favorite posts and what categories you think you might like to be nominated for in the all-around category. Don’t be shy!

As for this little blog, I won the best seminarian blog last year for which I am very grateful! I would say that since there isn’t a best UU vegetarianism/eco-friendly living writing category, this would again be the category that I would be most happy to be nominated for this year.

And I have two favorite posts, one of which I think has no chance of winning anything.

Drumroll….

My favorite post is The Secret is Total Bunk about the ethical and theological problems with a philosophy/mindset/belief that if you believe that certain good things will happen to you, they will and if they don’t, it is because you didn’t believe enough as put forth by the best-selling book The Secret.

Second favorite is my response to the UU World Article on Ethical Eating although somehow I feel like this is not going to be a winner.

*There were also quite a few follow-up posts on this theme:

Ethical Eating in UU World – A Short Response

Sigh. I am SO trying to be such a friendly, non-judgmental vegetarian. And apparently not coming across that way.

Read Reader Responses to UU World Ethical Eating Article

Over at Trivium: More on Ethical Eating (Food Post I)

Scott Wells on Good Food (Food Post II)

Death by Veganism: A Response to the NYTimes Article (Food Post III)

Anyway, that’s about it folks. Happy nominating and blogging – and really may I take a moment to say how blessed I feel to be able to learn so much from so many wonderful UU bloggers out there. Thanks to all of you. You are a bunch of smart, thoughtful cookies. I really appreciate what the world of UU blogging has brought into my life.

Peace, E

p.s. Late addition to favorite posts of the year: On the Fluidity of Sexuality; or My Coming Out Story


When there is not a thing you can do

January 19, 2008

The mother of one of the boys I mentor has had a stroke. I have known her for 13 years. Her health has never been good, but it doesn’t make it any easier for anyone. There is no one there to be her advocate – to manage things. When someone in my family is hospitalized, there are enough of us to hold vigil – drinking coffee from the coffee vending machine, telling stories, sitting in silence together – whatever it is we do when we wait and hope together. And always someone who works closely with the doctors – explores the options, makes sure the person is comfortable, attended to. In the case this lovely woman – all of her family has children, no one else to watch the children because everyone works so much, precarious jobs, no car, no money, etc. Just getting to the hospital is an ordeal, much less staying there, going back and forth, negotiating with intimidating white doctors. I HATE living so far away and there is nothing I can do. She is in the ICU and there are blood pressure issues involved on top of the stroke. She has no minister to attend to her either. Sigh. I know that her family is doing all that they can. I know that the young man I mentor is scared and hurting. Sometimes there is just no good way to make things better. And we can only do what we can do. Which isn’t very damn much.


Get Free Books

January 17, 2008

My friend RG, honored and revered benefactor of this blog, has alerted me to a great way to get free books. It is called Book Mooch. www.bookmooch.com It is pretty simple. You list books you want to give away. You get a point for giving someone your book (they have to request it from you for you to get the point) and then you can use that point to get a free book from someone else. You also get points for rating people who give you books and for listing books. All you pay is the shipping cost for the book that people request of you, but then they pay the shipping cost when they send your book, so it works out evenly. The only downside is that the books available are very best-seller-ish. So if you want to get a specialized book – it might be there, but it might not. Still, if you like reading bestsellers or have far too many books that you’ll never read again laying (lying?) around your house, this is great. I have so far mooched two books and sent away three. You should all join because I imagine my blog readers have some books I would love to mooch!


Be an Advice Columnist for a Day

January 13, 2008

Dan Savage writes a sex-advice column. This is not an endorsement or non-endorsement of that column, but a call to wise ministers and seminarians everywhere who have read the UUMA guidelines, the MFC reading list (including Sex in the Parish), and have possibly even taken the sexual ethics seminar at Andover Newton that I plan on going to tomorrow morning assuming we are not all blizzarded in.

Savage says he is stumped by a range of questions from readers, one of which is this one:

There’s this new pastor at the church I visit. She’s gorgeous, an athlete, and can read ancient Greek. I’ve managed to get her to lunch twice, despite her schedule, and I spelled out my interest explicitly. She seemed receptive, posited that dating someone in her new congregation could possibly cause issues, but may go hiking with me this weekend. So what’s the protocol for dating a smokin’-hot priestess?

Not Very Good Xian

Savage says: I don’t have answers for these folks. If you do, gentle readers, send ’em in and we’ll run the mother of all Savage Love web extras sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Write him at mail@savagelove.net. Since you can’t write to this young minister and tell her the potential dangers that come with dating someone in your congregation and lack of setting clear boundaries with congregants, what can you at least tell the guy? Does it matter that he “visits” the church? An opportunity to educate the public on healthy ministerial relationships!


Real Live Preacher

January 13, 2008

Rather than write a slick post as to why I like www.reallivepreacher.com (which would involve further procrastination on the mind-numbingly slow paper I am writing), I thought I would just cut and paste the email I just sent to my mentor (who was my Christian youth minister back in the day) as a way to suggest this very nice blog I like.

To: Michael
From: Elizabeth
Re: a blog i think you will like

as you know, i can be somewhat christian-a-phobic with jesus this and jesus that. but this blog is a christian (gasp) that doesn’t leave me annoyed. i liked what he wrote on his jan 12 mustard seed post

Jesus once said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds, but when it is planted, it grows into a large tree and the birds of the air nest in its branches.” So it is with goodness and with evil. Seeds are planted, either in selfishness or in goodness and service. What grows from those seeds is only known to those who are there. The ones who planted the seeds often never know what good or evil comes of their actions. Further, the idea of sin suggests that all of us have planted seeds of evil from time to time. I know that I have. Grace is being forgiven for the evil I have begun in this world. Redemption involves the changing of my heart and life, so that I can be a part of goodness.Pretty simple deal really. I don’t know why we Christians have made it so complex.

it may not be quite that simple, but i still really like this guy. i wish all christians could be so unannoying.

www.reallivepreacher.com


Second Funny Thing of the Week

January 12, 2008

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