All the Broken People
New Year’s, 1995. Relaxing in my chair, I sipped my coffee and watched the last football game of the night. Then I heard something at our sliding glass door. A kind of bump. I peered into the darkness. There on the deck was a gray tabby…a very thin one.
“A cat!” my son shouted. “Don’t open the door,” I said. “We don’t need another pet.” “But, Dad…” “No buts. Leave him alone.” Turning away, I stared at the TV, but knew the cat was staring at me. Now and then I glanced back. He was still there, just looking in.
Finally I went to shoo the animal away. He looked up and opened his mouth as if to cry out. But nothing came. Curious, I got down on the floor, my face just a few inches from the door. He tried to cry again. Nothing. His frail body swayed in the wind.
Nothing is colder than an uncaring heart.
I felt the glass. It was ice cold. Against all logic, I opened the door. The cat backed away. So I left the door open a bit, returned to my chair, and waited. Slowly the cat edged toward the warmth. Fearful, he carefully stepped into the den…and into our lives.
He was afraid of everyone and never made a sound. Maybe he had cried so often that he could not cry now. As we nourished, cared for, and loved him, he gained weight, became friends with our other pets, and, though fairly old, played at times like a kitten.
Newly had found happiness.1 He eventually meowed from time to time, but never in that demanding “I’m your master” kind of way. He wasn’t like that. He wanted to love on those who loved him, and he always knew who needed his love, even strangers.
I learned a lot from that little gray cat.
Brokenness is often ignored. Even church can so focus on being a cheerful place that no one sees the pain, sorrow, loneliness, and grief that walk through the doors. Yet Jesus said, Love one another, as I have loved you.2 If we fail, we are no “family” at all.
Each day those in the cold of despair look in on the warmth of love and fellowship others enjoy. They hurt so badly they can’t cry anymore. They stand at the door, too weak to knock. And they are not just the unfortunate souls around us. They are us!
In 2001 Newly died. I cannot account for his life before then, but with us he experienced love, caring, and family. I pray we can say the same of those whose paths we cross. Show God’s love within you. Open your door, let them inside…and give them Hope.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. Also an author and speaker, Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
This Note is based on Newly the Cat and Broken People by Chuck Graham (3-12-2001).
Footnotes: (1) We named him Newly because he arrived on New Year’s day. (2) Read John 15:12.
Pictures: Banner Shot: A Rough Sleeper in London, Penelope Barritt/Alamy. 3rd Photo: Desperate, Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe.