We’ve had a lot of cats while we’ve been living in Ireland. There are lots of feral cats roaming the countryside looking for some sap to feed them or to adopt their kittens. At one point we had four under our roof. They were probably all related because they could tolerate and even enjoy each other’s company. They would all sit on the kitchen window sill waiting to be let inside, then, when we opened the back door they would all run in to their food bowls like they were on rails:
They would also cuddle up in one basket at nap time (unfortunately I don’t have a photo with all four together):
We currently have three cats under our roof, and another who comes for food but won’t let us touch him. Sadly, they hate each other. They turn to us for cuddles instead. Strangely, but conveniently, they have each chosen different people as their special property. Minnie has always been devoted to my husband:
Next came Tiger who adopted me:
Then came Marshmallow who chose my daughter, who chose her unusual name:
And last of all – king of the garden:
Introductions over, I’d like to share an insight I had whilst watching the cats. As I said, these cats hate each other. It makes living with them quite difficult at times, and it makes them quite jumpy. Anyway, earlier on, I was trying to persuade Tiger that he could go back to sleep while I dealt with the post which had just dropped through the door and startled him. The thing is the cats don’t trust us enough. We want them to know that we have their best interests at heart but there’s no way to communicate that to them. From their point of view we’re quite unsatisfactory hosts. We’re slow to give them what they want, and even when we respond we often get it wrong. “No, I don’t want fish today!” We put them out in all weathers. Occasionally, we even hurt them; trapping a tail or treading on a paw. We’ve let invading cats into their domain, or, in Marshmallow’s case, we’ve introduced them into an environment that already belongs to someone else. If they trusted us we could minimise their contact with the other cats. But because they’d rather travel through the house on their own terms they’re constantly evading us and running up against the other cats. Whoever suggested the term “herding cats” for an impossible task was spot on.
So, it struck me, that this is somewhat analogous to our relationship with God. I’m sure that if we could trust God more it would make our lives a lot easier. He’s tried to communicate His great love and care for us through Revelation and by allowing His Son to be sacrificed for us. But we’d rather try to rely on our own feeble powers than to trust in the care of Our Heavenly Father. And that’s probably because His care can be baffling at times. God doesn’t always give us what we think we need and sometimes He allows bad things to happen to us. We don’t trust Him enough to realise that He sees the bigger picture, that He is helping us to grow and flourish. So from now on I’m going to try to be less like a cat and more like a dog when it comes to trust. How about you?
I’m still researching and preparing for my latest project. I’ve done some more sketching based on illustrations in the Book of Kells. I find that sketching allows me to absorb more information about the way the illustrations are designed and coloured than just looking at them would do.
I sketched a few more crazy cats and a weird dove:
My blog has been quiet recently because I’ve been doing research for my next project (which I mentioned in my previous post). I’ve been looking at a lot of images on the Internet and reading about the use of symbolism in Christian art. There’s not much to show for it except a head full of ideas. Here is one of the ideas that made it as far as my sketchbook.
One of the styles I was considering was to make the image like an old stained glass window. At the moment though I’m thinking about using the style of the old Celtic manuscripts. Here are some cats and a peacock that I copied from a book about the Book of Kells.
As you can see, the monks who illustrated the Book of Kells weren’t going for realism. I love the colours on the first cat.
I borrowed a book from the library that had a black and white photo of a page from “Cormac’s Psalter”. Here is a copy I tried to make of it in my sketchbook. (I guessed the colours.)
Unless you look closely (try clicking on the photo) it’s easy to miss the craziness of this piece. For example, the mouthless heads at the top right are particularly baffling. I love the interwoven laces in the background. I tried to use this kind of random lacing in my “Deep Peace” drawing (behind the words “PEACE” and “TO YOU”).
You’ve been missing since Thursday morning and I don’t think I’m going to see you again. I hope you are in a happy place. I will miss you very much. I will miss the way you used to grunt instead of purring and how you could only manage the tiniest meow when you were feeling particularly misunderstood. I will miss your softness and your “tail hugs”.