Light Notes

Elitism OK for felines, but not for God's children

It’s hard to fit in at our house — if you meow.

That’s what Tigee the cat discovered when he came to our place for spring break. And if this kitty was expecting a party, it was clear he’d have to whoop it up on his own.

Oreo, our tuxedo cat, picked up the welcome mat the minute Tigee came in the door with the grandkids. And although the feline face-to-face greeting was brief, the message hissed was loud and clear: The only one who was going to let their hair down on this carpet was Oreo.

Obviously, she hadn’t extended an invitation to this kitty — just an ordinary alley cat, as far as she could see over the top of her upturned nose. And most certainly in her circle, which included every square inch of the house, she did NOT — and never would — accept another cat, especially one with such poor breeding.

Why, with just a glance, it was obvious Tigee wasn’t dressed for a social gathering like her. If anything, his coat looked like a jailbird’s — and he needed to go back where he belonged!

Even so, Tigee tried his best to be friends with Oreo.

But with claws extended, she gave him the brush-off, her withering stare stopping him in his tracks. From her demeanor, that’s where he belonged — on the other side. \How dare that pesky piece of fur intrude!

By the end of the visit, Tigee had given up. He knew his place. And it was in a different zip code.

As I watched the scenario unfold, it reminded me of something I’d read about recently.

Nancy Ortberg explains in her book, Looking for God: An Unexpected Journey through Tattoos, Tofu and Pronouns how her minister illustrated our natural bent toward exclusiveness.

With 10 volunteers on the church platform, he chose one to stand alone and told the other nine to form a circle. He then asked the remaining volunteer to penetrate the circle — to do whatever it took to gain access.

Immediately the other nine started to whisper, locked arms and then rotated together in an effort to keep him out. When, with much struggle the one person managed to get in, the minister reminded the congregation of one thing: “I never told the group to keep him out of the circle.”

The author points out that it’s almost instinctive to exclude someone who is new, and possibly different from us, even if we don’t do it intentionally. But a cold shoulder is the same as rotating and locking arms to keep someone out of our circle.

It’s a point to ponder: Elitism isn’t acceptable for a child of God — or for a cat.