Cats in the Bible

A few Sundays ago, we had a family service at the breakfast table in lieu of church.

Normally on Sunday mornings we’re upstairs and downstairs, searching for socks and toasting quick breakfasts, sometimes down one parent if one of us has gone early to help prepare for service.

But that day we looked at the ice outside the window, at Little Jo’s slightly runny nose, at the long and hectic course we put everyone through that week, and we decided the better way to worship would be to stay home.

So over crumbs of fried egg and maple bacon, Y read the story of “The Shepherds and the Angels” from the family Bible. When he looked up from the page to explain the shepherds’ response to seeing the angels, Lucy looked at me knowingly and said in a loud whisper, “This is the sermon part, Mommy!”

Whereupon Mommy and Daddy’s lips twitched so much that we had to pause before returning to the text.

In all, our “service” took us about fifteen minutes. It wasn’t so different from what we do at night, so the girls were familiar with all that we did.

At bedtime, Little Jo trotted over with her milk cup in one hand and a little Toddler’s Bible in the other. “Mew, mew,” she said insistently, flipping pages as she drank. This Toddler’s Bible has animals drawn in the background of every story. She was looking for the cat that sits on a table when Gabriel comes to talk to Mary.

To Little Jo right now, the book is really about a cat, though there is the man named “Jee” who makes frequent cameo appearances.

It won’t always be so; her vocabulary is burgeoning by the hour, and on a day not far off, the main story of “God’s great rescue plan” will unfold for her.

But she is so much like her mother, who is always learning how to read the Bible: searching for things relevant to my own problems first, and then beginning to see the whole story that encompasses, interweaves, and makes sense of my very small chapter. How many obstacles there are — usually my obsessing over a whole litter of cats! — but how equally great the patience of a Father with the very distracted and self-centered child that I often am.