Saturday, September 24, 2011


One cat had a chewed off ear, but otherwise looked exactly like the other calico that came to greet us as we waited for Asherel's guitar lesson. The one with the chewed off ear was the guitar teacher's cat. The one with both ears intact was the next door bully cat. I think, but am not positive about this, that he was the one responsible for the chewed off ear of the other. They looked similar enough that I assumed they were from the same litter, but Lenny told us that was not the case.

"We don't like the neighbor's cat," he had told us, "He picks on my cat."
I glanced at the mauled ear.
Both cats overcame their hatred of the other to come purr at our feet and beg for attention. They glared at each other though, and I think had we not been there, the nice cat's other ear would have been in jeopardy.
"Bully!" I growled at the neighbor's cat.

One of the Gavel club speeches last week had been by a girl who said she had dreams of being an actress, and she had joined Gavel Club for that reason.
"You see," she said, "To be an actress, you have to be able to speak in front of people. I can be the greatest actor by myself in front of a mirror...but I can't do anything when people watch me. I used to be able to, but then there were some people that bullied me. I lost all my confidence. I am here trying to get it back." She looked down at her notes, her cheeks red, and took a deep breath.

We are studying American History this year, and are currently in the early 1600s, starving and struggling with the Puritans in Massachusetts. One of the things that really struck me was that while they came seeking religious freedom for themselves, they were actually loathe to offer it to others. They hated the Quakers, and called them Quakers as an epithet, in mocking reference how they would sometimes "quake" and tremble when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Those who tried to suggest error in the Puritan religious or community life, were banned from the colony. If they wouldn't leave, they were imprisoned and hanged. And yet, the Puritans really believed that they were following God's will. Their pious nature was not in question, though their methods of spreading it were.

How and why does one slip into bullying? Why did the well fed, well cared for cat think it had to swipe off the ear of the nice cat? Both cats were neutered. It is not like this was a fight over a mate, which can be brutal in both the animal and human world. And what would prompt anyone to make fun of that sweet and gentle young lady at Gavel Club to the degree that she no longer dared to speak? How could love of God be disfigured into banishment, hangings, witch hunts....?

We have to be so careful. For me, I have to keep examining my motives. Any motive that only benefits me is in danger of becoming bullying. I am not an overt bully, but I think all of us have it in us to subjugate others, ridicule others, and denigrate others. I grow weary of how mixed my motives often are, and how I have to fight constantly against selfishness. Paul, of the Bible, is imprisoned by false seekers of God. The chilling fact, Paul recognizes is that even the message of God can be spoken out of selfish ambition and is the reason that he is in chains in prison. Nonetheless, he glorifies that the message is still disseminated. However, that truth brings me to my knees. How does one manage to keep a pure heart, a pure purpose, a pure motive? I think this is one of the hardest things to do. Am I all alone on this?

I glanced at the cat, the bully cat, imploring me to pet him. His green eyes were beseeching. I glanced again at the ruined ear of Lenny's cat.
"Oh, pet him," said Asherel.
I bent down and stroked the calico fur.
"We should both do better," I admonished him as he purred.

Psalm 119:35-37

35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
   for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
   and not toward selfish gain.

Philippians 1:16-18

16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
   Yes, and I will continue to rejoice


  1. A well-spoken and needed word for the community. Thank you, Vicky!

  2. Thanks Marie. I have such a wealth of personal imperfection to draw from .