We recently adopted a kitten. We named her Margery, after an obscure medieval English mystic named Margery Kempe (this is a trend, for our eldest cat, who died a few years ago, was named Julian for Julian of Norwich). Margery came to us from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, where I work. She was one of several kittens born to a cat abandoned on the monastery grounds. A volunteer corralled the babies, and one of them came home with me.
We figure Margery was born sometime around May 10, so she is 11 or 12 weeks old now. She is in full kitten splendor. The house has been in an uproar since we brought her home earlier this summer. Our two older cats — Clarissa, 11, and Furbie, 8, neither of whom are named for mystics — spent a week or so in hiding, and now just try to ignore this interloper, but that's not easy to do, since Margery pounces on them every chance she gets. Actually, she pounces on everything every chance she gets, including my legs (she's a confident huntress). The other day my wife found the kitten eagerly attacking our daughter's bed, with all the enthusiasm of the Man of La Mancha going after the windmills.
Despite the various scratchings and liberal amount of feline hissing that goes on, all three humans who live here are just hopelessly in love with our little Cistercian kitten. Our daughter, Rhiannon (yes, named after the Fleetwood Mac song) is both mentally and physically disabled, and suffers from life-threatening kidney and liver disease. Sometimes things get a little heavy in our house. We all struggle with anger and depression and tears. It's been a tough summer, as fatigue has made mornings particularly difficult for Rhiannon. So Margery, with her kittenly antics and seemingly endless supply of energy (we call her "Energizer Kitten," among other nicknames) has brought more than just laughter and smiles (and the occasional terrifying crash as she knocks yet something else over) into our lives. She has brought life itself. She reminds us that, no matter how long the shadow of death and disease and suffering looms over us, there's more to life than loss.
“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” So said Albert Camus. Even in the midst of pain and illness and the finality of death, God always beckons us to remember — and reconnect — with life, and with joy, and with hope. Sometimes this invitation to remember comes through our faith, or our friends, or the wisdom of the ages. And sometimes it might come through the antics of a hyperactive kitten.