I’m a Carlisle girl. It’s no secret that I’ve found my home and my people here. One thing that I hadn’t found, up until recently, was a church where I really felt like I “fit.” Sure, I went to a few churches – even joined one right after I left the Army, but none felt really RIGHT. Until now.
On Palm Sunday, I walked, rather hesitantly, into the UUCV church out in Boiling Springs. My friend Geneva had been pestering me to come visit, and I had staunchly resisted until that point. I sat through the service…and cried. And I came back the next week….and cried. Not because I was sad, or was somehow traumatized by them [they haven’t traumatized me…yet]…but because everything they said, everything that was sung…everything their very funny, down to earth preacher preached, was everything I believed that put me at odds with the other churches I’ve been a part of.
So I kept coming.
There is this one song…..they sing it every week. It speaks to me. I’ve finally started to learn the lyrics by heart, and it is largely the reason I sat and cried, and kept coming back.
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
I’ve found my people. My church. The last piece of my home. I even joined the choir.
Home is a really important concept to me. It isn’t a place as much as it is a feeling….a family. And I am so very lucky to have that with my friends on Pomfret street, my “art” friends, my church friends, etc. Today, the reflection and the theme of the service was about grace. And one of the worship leaders described it as “a gift that we did nothing to earn.”
After church, we had our quarterly town meeting, which I stayed for. And then….my day took an incredibly unexpected turn.
Another lost creature found her way to UUCV. She was abandoned, though she had obviously once been loved. “She” was a long haired, orange cat. She walked into the church, starving, dehydrated, injured, and alone. A few of us brought her back out onto the porch and gave her water. David, our choir leader, tried to call animal control — they don’t “do” stray cats. So I offered to take her up to a local vet to have her checked for a microchip, and then find a rescue for her. “I’m NOT keeping her,” I proclaimed. “I DON’T DO CATS.” David ran home to get a cat carrier and some food, and a few of us stayed with the kitty [unnamed, because naming is attaching, and that WAS NOT going to happen].
LONG STORY SHORT…..
I took her to the vet. No microchip, but the vet was so concerned about her condition that she gave her an IV, some high calorie food [she only weighs 2.6 lbs, and she should be between 8-10], stitched up a few big gashes on her belly/sides, and checked her over. She said that this cat was on death’s door. A few more days, and she’d have died. It was obvious that she wasn’t feral. She’d been fixed and declawed in the front, which meant she couldn’t hunt.
The poor darling.
I couldn’t possibly let her be even more traumatized in one day…..so I decided “oh, I’ll take her home and try to find her owner. But I’m NOT NAMING HER.”
I realized, at this point, that I was eating my words of three weeks ago…….
After my face surgery, I’d gone to stay at my dear friend Patty’s house, where she took such good care of me. While laying around in her bed, watching HGTV and chatting, her cat Pico kept trying to help her care for me. He is a sweet cat. Now, let me be clear. I AM NOT A CAT PERSON. Never have been. I’ve ALWAYS had dogs. I’m a dog person. A bird person. A guinea pig person. NOT a cat person. But her cat, Pico, was so cute and sweet that I said, through my haze of painkillers, “I like this cat. If I could find a long haired orange cat like Pico, who is declawed like Pico, who is sweet like Pico, and who found me like Pico found you, I could be tempted to get a cat.”
Well…..this cat has long, orange hair….like Pico
She is declawed…..like Pico.
She is sweet…..like Pico.
And, like Pico, I didn’t go looking for her….she came looking for me.
I called Patty from the lobby of Petsmart. “You’re not allowed to laugh at me,” I said, “but……I think I might have just gotten a cat.”
After a BIG LAUGH [she’s a snot who doesn’t listen well sometimes], she said, “Give me five minutes. I’ll be right there!” And she met me at Petsmart, fished the cat out of the carrier, and cooed. We walked around, gathering what I needed for the cat….with Patty laughing at me the whole time.
“I’m not keeping her!” I kept saying. “I’m NOT. I’m going to try to find her people.”
Another giggle, and Patty patted my cheek and said, knowingly, “you already did, sweetie.”
I got her home, gave her a flea bath — she didn’t even resist, just howled a little bit — and realized that Patty was right. I did find her people. Her “people” seems to be me.
And I named her.
Actually, it’s supposed to be spelled Ricska, but in the interest of simplicity, I modified it so that it’s spelled phonetically. It’s a Turkish idiom that, roughly translated means both “go home” and “find your people.” She needed a home. She needed her people. So did I. We each found both – through the front doors of UUCV in Boiling Springs. And that, my friends, is very cool.