Fourteen years ago, we went to the animal shelter to get a couple of replacement cats for our first set that had died of old age. I expected to get two, so of course we ended up with three kittens – a brother and sister duo, and a little Siamese, who never stopped howling. The vet said he just needed some “groceries,” which we provided as soon as we got home. It’s always a funny sight to see three little kittens waddling with fat little tummies having eaten to their hearts’ delight.
The Siamese kitten, who was a week older that the other two – all of six weeks – we appropriately named Thor, the god of thunder. Through the years, Thor has created a pretty entertaining personality, since we didn’t know that Siamese had very quiet purring sounds, but they also were given over to talking incessantly to anyone who would listen. Thor will answer questions we ask him, although I expect it’s more in the inflection of our voices than the content of our words. However, at precisely 8:45 every evening, he hunts Cheri down, and begins to howl and fuss, because it’s time for her to go to bed and read, which means it’s time for him to go and snuggle up on her while she reads. Every morning, as she sits at the table, Thor whines and cries until she lets him jump up on her lap and again, snuggle in. He will make another fuss when he thinks it’s time to have Cheri or someone else throw him over their shoulder and walk around like we are holding a little baby. Which he is – a spoiled, demanding entertaining baby.
You see, the big underlying issue with Thor – is that he is cold. He is always cold, well, except for one situation, which I’ll get to. Thor is your textbook Siamese – he is skinny, with very thin legs, and a jet-black tail that thumps when you talk to him. But, oh my, he is skinny. Not malnourished, as though we don’t feed him enough. It’s just his way. You really shouldn’t see a fat Siamese anyway. But with no fat at all on his skinny little body, the tendency is for him to be well affected by changes in temperatures. That tendency is also lived out in his plain lack of tolerance for any kind of discomfort. Did we mentioned he’s a big baby? Since Siamese came originally from Thailand, his ancestral DNA makes him crave heat. The rest of us in the house would prefer not having the temperature year-round at 85 degrees, so we live a bit more comfortably. This creates a constant hunt for heat for the god of thunder.
We actually call him the Heat Thief. He will spend most of his day on the side of the house where the sun shines in. He will usually start in the bedroom, where the sun pours in onto the white carpet, making a particularly warm spot. He then will move to the back of the couch which faces the window, and give him another hot spot. Heaven forbid, however, if we have a cloudy day. Then the howling begins. He will cry like Cassandra of Greek myth, who was blessed and cursed by always seeing the future, but being curse by having no one believe her. Thor calls out to the world that a new Ice Age is on the way, since the sun is behind the clouds. Glaciers are moving our way if it’s a rainy day. Thor is cold, and there is no satisfaction. Even worse, we have a sweet big tawny colored cat named Hermes, who loves to sleep and generate his own oven of heat. There are times when we hear a bit of a fuss, and will find Hermes standing up where he was lying a few moments before, and Thor comfortably snuggled in on the preheated blanket or towel. Heat Thief.
But on the days when Cheri is off work, Thor owns her. Laps, shoulders, warm robes – any device that separates Thor from a cold world is utilized to make him happy. As much as we love to see the rain come and water everything, most days, we have to hope for sunshine, just to stop the whining!
I’m so glad we humans would never be like Thor. Never would we spend our time whining that things are not just right, just so – warm enough, cool enough, soft enough, firm enough, challenging enough, easy enough… right? Actually, the truth is, Thor represents our very particular natures. Who among us is completely satisfied? Who never wishes things to be different than they are? Even worse, since it would NEVER be us – who do we know who just makes a fuss in their lives when things don’t go the way they want, or the temperature of the world is not to their liking – or they just want to fuss? Perhaps it’s part of our human nature, although I would suggest it is not the best part of who we are. In fact, in observing Thor’s constant need and desire to have things exactly his own way, I would say that the more thoughtful way of living would leave all that behind, and instead, find a serenity in it not being quite warm enough, or too warm, but knowing we will survive and perhaps even thrive when we focus on what the world needs, and not what Randy must have to be comfortable.
Again, an intentional life makes the first action, and not the first reaction. When I am able to live thoughtful and desiring even to change myself for the sake of what the world can use of me, then I lead. Then I have an impact far beyond making the world bend to my needs and wants. Thor is just a cat, and will always whine and talk and try to get his own way. He’s a big baby. I hope that will never describe you and me.
Word for the day: callithumpian. It means “pertaining to a callithump.” Not helpful. Actually, if you divide the word out, calli means “beauty,” and thump means just what it is – a pounding beat. The word becomes nearly sarcastic and truly ironic, as a beautiful beat is really defined as a riotous parade, with tin horns or cymbals crashing – just a huge bunch of noise! It’s an American word, just made up out of convenience. In the earlier days, after a wedding, the friends of the bride and groom would throw a “shivaree,” which consisted of going to where the newlyweds were to spend their wedding night, and making a huge noisy serenade as a teasing and joking “gift” to the couple. Some believe the word, shivaree, really meant “headache” in Latin.
Every New Years, it is our family’s tradition to set the timer, and in the moments before 12:00, we pull out the horns, then rattles and the pots and pans, and stand at the front door, usually freezing, and when the timer goes off, we make the worst sounds we can, to supposedly scare away the demons from our front door, to start the new year right. I love it – Cheri tolerates it, but it is definitely one of the nicer callithumps of the year.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.