If you could admit it to yourself, you would have confess that you are expecting bad news. But, it’s hard to be that honest with yourself. So you shrug and say things like, “We’ll see,” and, “Hope for the best!” Or, you don’t say anything at all. You clench your teeth without realizing you’re doing it until your jaw begins to hurt. Your stomach twists. You avoid people. You sweat.
But when you suddenly receive good news instead of what you anticipated, there’s no other relief like that that kind of relief.
Thank you to everyone who participated in my foolishness yesterday. Any stragglers are still very welcome to send me a story to post, email@example.com. Here is the story I wrote yesterday, (and edited this morning).
the man who hated cats
Once upon a time, there was a man that hated cats. By and by, he married a girl who loved cats. Everyday he came home from work and she would ask him, “Did you bring me a kitty?” To which he would reply, “No.” Because he hated cats.
Nevertheless, because he loved his wife, he got a kitten for her one day. When he returned home from work, his wife asked him, “Did you bring me a kitty?” At last he could answer, “Yes.” And there was much rejoicing. The man did not rejoice, however. The kitten was a nuisance in his estimation. It hid behind things and pounced on his ankles to bite and scratch him when he walked by. It clawed up his chair. It threw up on the carpet. But the man comforted himself in knowing that his wife was pleased with the furry pest, and he hoped that at least it killed some rodents when it was outside.
One day, the kitten came home from an overnight excursion without one of its feet. There was much distress. If the man had been home, he likely would have shot the animal in order to put it out of its misery. But he was at work, so the kitten was taken to a veterinarian and had its whole back leg amputated. So it goes. The man’s wife made the cat a bed so that it could sleep in the bedroom while it recovered. Late that night, the man awoke to the sound of the kitten howling miserably. His wife slept on, and so he got up to check on the animal. It was asleep, but it was obviously suffering. The man pitied the kitten even though he did not like it. He crouched down and stroked the kitten’s fur. It quieted almost immediately. The man returned to bed, and the terrible howls began again soon after. So, he sat himself down next to the kitten’s bed and stroked its head all night long. Three sleepless nights passed this way, and the kitten began to get better.
It wasn’t long before the kitten was back to normal, although he had one less leg than he began with. It bit the man, tore up his things, and generally did everything it could to make itself unwelcome. Only now, the man couldn’t comfort himself by sending the kitten outside to murder rodents. His wife gave strict orders that the kitten was to remain indoors for the rest of its life. The kitten grew into a cat, and the man and the cat grew into enemies.
Any time a window in the house was opened, the cat would tear holes in the screens. It crouched near the front door so that it could dart outside if the man was not vigilant. He would then be obliged to retrieve the cat, who would lead him for long walks through the underbrush, always staying just out of reach. Sometimes the man would have to crawl under the house in order to fetch the cat. And the cat did many other things to vex the man. Once, when the man returned home from a long journey, he shucked his favorite jacket off onto the floor. The cat immediately rushed over and peed on the jacket. Such was his way. He no longer had the excuse of being, “just a kitty.” He was just a jerk. Many times the man looked at the cat and though, “If my best friend in the world came into my house, destroyed my belongings, scratched my children, and pooped in my closet, as you have done many times, I would violently remove him. And everyone would say I was right to do so. Yet I must tolerate your presence here indefinitely.”
Gradually, however, the cat mellowed out a little. As many villains do as they mature, he became less aggressive, but more devious in his villainy. He would often feign affection for the humans with whom he lived. If he was hungry, he would meow and rub on people’s legs. If he wanted a comfortable place to rest, he would purr and cuddle with someone until they allowed him to sleep on their lap. But all of his affection was purely selfish. The man was not deceived. When the cat tried to crawl onto his lap, he would place it back on the floor and say, “We are not friends, cat. Go away.” When it would rub on his leg and beg noisily for food, he would push it away, saying, “Shut up, cat. Nobody likes you.” Once, his children heard him saying this to the cat, and they protested.
“Don’t say that to the cat,” they said. “He’s our cat, and we like him!”
“Very well,” the man replied. “You can be responsible for feeding him, giving him water, and scooping out that ridiculous box of sand and poop we keep in the laundry room, if you like him so much.”
“We will! We will” they shouted back.
And oftentimes they did. But they also forgot to care for the cat many times, because that is their way. And when the man rose very early in the morning, the cat would be waiting for him. He would trip over it in the kitchen as it rubbed on the same ankles it used to bite. The cat would meow, and meow, and meow until the man would almost shout at it in the dark, quiet house, “SHUT UP!” But the cat would not shut up. And so the man would feed it, and give it water, and then he would squat down and stroke the cat’s fur while it ate, just as he had done many years ago. And so they still live, until this very day.
The moral of the story is this: If a man who hated cats would adopt such a miserable creature, will not God, who loves mankind, adopt such miserable creatures as us? And if a man would care for an animal he hated because of pity, will not God care for us, whom he loves? And if this man continues to feed the cat, whom he would much rather throw as far as possible out the front door, simply because it repeatedly asks, will not God who loves us give us all that we need?
Yesterday I put out a request for stories. Here, in the raw format in which I received them, is what has come in so far. I am very grateful. If anything more makes its way to me over the next few days, I’ll put up another post. I’m working on my own story to throw into the mix too. Thanks for playing along, everybody!
The night was alive as Jake and I arrived in Munich Germany. Both 18, we had finally accomplished our escape, though we didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. Had little reason to even think it really. We weren’t from some dying town in the Midwest which cultivates that acute sense of claustrophobia and subsequently, an overwhelming need to get out of Dodge ASAP.
We were from a thriving area of paradise not far from the fabled Santa Barbara. More fabled then I knew before taking my first missions trip to Russia when I was 14, only to find that seemingly everyone in the USSR had seen the soap opera Santa Barbara and knew exactly where on the map we lived, how we all lived in enormous mansions and had affairs in the middle of the day.
Anyway standing in the Munich airport with a steady buzz of people humming around from here and there it was easy to feel fully alive as I looked out the glass wall of windows with snow gently starting down and some city lights in the near distance. With our train not coming until morning we had the whole night to kill-meaning try to find somewhere to stay warm and get some grub (preferably without spending too much of our precious dough).
So we set off on foot into the oncoming snow with all our luggage, into the distance and, low and behold, after what seemed to be an unreal amount of time, came to a beautiful 4 star hotel of towering glass and steel.
So, after the careful consideration that young men are known for, we went in and found a world that we had only seen in the movies. It was like on Titanic where everyone had already paid for the ticket and was just going up freely to take as much food as the wanted. Glorious piles of amazing looking food everywhere and no one was paying for any of it! So far, we were loving Erurope. We grabbed some plates, stuffed ourselves and chatted a couple of people up to find out what was going on. Apparently some flight had been delayed overnight, so everyone had been diverted for a free stay at the hotel which included dinner and we just happened to be there to cash in on it. We then crashed on a couple of couches on one of the quieter floors to be awaken by management (which happened to be around the same time we needed to get going anyway) who, it turns out, were very cool and gave us a free breakfast on our way out the door. It felt like a personalized and very gentle wake up call more than an eviction really. We then proceeded to find our way around the famously punctual transit syste. Well Jake was finding our way around and I was, preoccupied as I sometimes am, my brain working Fuhrer- I mean furiously, to figure out the connection between the obvious ability to make trains be on time and having a fiercely ingrained take-over-the-world gene that would make you try to take over every so often.
We were both so wrapped up in these important questions of finding our way around and solving the mysteries of the German people that we didn’t find it very odd that we were hopping on and off trains and not paying anything.
After several free rides on the public transit we finally got to our train which, by the way, was taking us to Spittal Austria, a small idealic town set in the Alps. A perfect place. It was the home of the European Calvary Chapel Bible College, a place that Jake had found surfing the web. He then called me up and asked if I wanted to move there instead of Tahoe which is where we had been saving and planning on moving to be ski bums. In fact we already had jobs there. I said “sure” and I guess Jake didn’t use the internet anymore that week because we were headed to bible college a week later with no further interruption.
On the main leg of the train trip to Spittal we ran into a guy named George who was actually from our home town of Paradise and was headed to the Bible college for a semester as well. I’ll never forget the worried/superior look on Georges face when he said that Christians really irritated him.
My favorite part of this whole little jaunt from the airport in Munich to our arrival at the Bible college was when Jake rehashed all these afore- mentioned happenings on the welcoming worship and testimonial night during the share stories of how God provided for you to get here. Jake had a lot of confidence and easy smile and an overall creepy story to tell of how we mooched, took without asking and basically cheapskated our way into town, with the unique Christian spin that God has really guided and provided for our whole way. Luckily I was quick enough to play it cool and look around curiously whenever Jake motioned to me during this testimony to play it off as if I too were looking to see who his mysterious partner in crime was. This also afforded me the option of looking back to see a couple of people cringing and a couple of teachers trying not to laugh. To top it off Jake made what he meant as respectful remark about how cool it was to see so many great Christian girls around. This time there was not suppressing the laughter at this dude on stage and his mysterious friend no one seemed to be able to locate.
Janet Gillett – Too large a heart
When I was 12 I had a best friend named Marilyn, who was one of 7 children. Her older brother Terry, who was 15 had a terrible crush on me. I was too young to pay any attention to this until one Valentine’s Day. He gave me a giant heart shaped box of chocolate, which of course I could not refuse. I had only one problem about this transaction, how to get it home and safely under my bed without my mother seeing it. She would make me return it no doubt, plus even more concerning to me was the size of it. It was twice the size of the one I had bought for her. So I decided to break in to my own house. I climbed up to the bathroom window but struggled with removing the screen quietly and in my haste tore a huge hole in it. Now even though I made it safely inside with this treasure of chocolate , a confession was necessary. As you can imagine , all did not go well.
Lilianna Gillett – Lili and Levi
It is my birthday tomorrow, (I can keep track of things this far in advance), and I have a request: tell me a story. That’s what I want. It can be real, it can be complete make believe. I don’t even care if it’s well told. Write something up and send it to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. With your permission, I’ll make a post of whatever stories come, giving you as much notoriety or anonymity as you desire. Or, if you want me to keep it to myself, I’ll just keep it to myself. Sound good? I think so.
My daughter is a prolific reader. It’s a little unnerving, actually, to watch such a little one devour books like a hungry wolf. She recently picked up a book about Tinkerbell and her fairy friends playing tricks upon each other. She gets excited about her stories, (I don’t know where she gets it from), so she told me about some of the fairy pranks. Now, some of you might not know this about me, but I like to mess with people. A good, original prank is a thing of special beauty, but I normally restrain myself. I get carried away rather quickly. Anyway, after hearing about my daughter’s book, I began to tell her about some of the pranks I’ve played. We had a good laugh, and she went about her business. But I was left in a wash of nostalgia.
As I thought back on some of my brighter moments, I realized that the statute of limitations has expired on many of my crimes. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation talking, but I think it may be time to make a few confessions. Many of the following incidents involved accomplices, but I’m won’t name names. First, here are a few pranks I’ve spoken openly about before.
• I once hid sardines around my friend’s house. It was not an unprovoked attack, but I probably went too far. His wife was pregnant, with morning sickness. And they had guests staying with them. Sorry, Arpi.
• Dane used to study on Saturdays. One Saturday, I blocked all the doors of the church, turned off the power, and snuck in to shoot him with party poppers. Unfortunately, the menacing audio track I tried to play over the loudspeakers didn’t work. Sorry, Dane.
And now, since I no longer work at Crossroads, here’s the ones I can no longer get in trouble for:
• For as long as I was in charge of making coffee, it was decaf all day long every April 1st. Sorry, office staff. But I drank it too.
• I found a whole bunch of drug paraphernalia in the back parking lot one summer and stuck it in one of the pastor’s cabinets. Sorry, unnamed pastor.
• The green room beeps once an hour. I have no interest in disclosing the origin of this beep. Sorry, pastors and musicians.
• I once drew stick-figure scenes on big pieces of butcher paper and hung them over the four paintings in the foyer. Sorry, June Steckler.
• Remember when we used to baptise people in that above-ground pool behind the church once a year? Remember when it had a half-dozen goldfish swimming around in it? Sorry, church.