My Mom has an irreversible, untreatable vision impairment – complete peripheral vision loss creating the sensation of seeing through a narrow tube, a condition commonly referred to as “tunnel vision.” It means relying on my Dad to guide her in many ways- always walking with her arm in his or holding hands, even down now familiar hallways of the senior living residence they moved into a few weeks ago. So it was not unusual, when we arrived at my sister’s last Saturday afternoon for an early family Thanksgiving while I was in town, that Dad walked Mom over to a couch across from the action in the kitchen to be seated after greeting everyone.
And it wasn’t surprising really, since we all came hungry for the traditional Thanksgiving feast, that Dad went in search of something to snack on after settling Mom in. Grabbing a handful of munchies from a bowl on the counter, he offered his open hand to my mother saying, “It’s either rabbit food or nuts.” Having to look past a box on the kitchen counter to a full view of the cat bowl sitting there rendered my other sister a little slow on the uptake, and by the time she called out “That’s catfood!” my Mom already had a mouthful.
My mother’s reaction was impressive – nothing dramatic, she just calmly spit the catfood out into a napkin while the rest of us “lost it” in disbelief of what just happened. The jokes started flying, but even when I said “good thing it wasn’t catnip, Dad, ’cause Mom might get frisky later” my Mom just meowed – seriously, I cannot imagine having such grace or composure. I would have been tempted to at least hiss at my Dad or force feed him a few kibbles & bits of his own, but there was no hint of that in her demeanor – clearly he was vindicated without further thought.
As for the rest of us, we couldn’t stop talking about it, laughing about it. When my brother arrived, my niece and nephew greeted him with “Did you hear Nana ate cat food?” – my daughters had already gotten to their cousins with the news flash moments after it happened. And when my brother-in-law arrived home to a houseful of uncontained laughter, he joined in – almost with a sense of pride that it occurred on his very counter … I can still picture the boyish grin on his face when he asked his kids if they knew that Grandma ate cat food.
Why did we all get such a charge out of it? Why was it so comical, so worthy of repeating to anyone who may not already know that it happened? Why were we still laughing about it hours later, talking about it the next day even? Is a human eating food intended for cats really all that funny? Ah, ya, apparently.
How many things do we go after in life that were never meant for us – relationships, jobs, ministries, pursuits that are not part of God’s design for our lives? And who do we fix our eyes on, lean on – in our limited vision, to faithfully walk us through each step in life?
Julie Ackermann Link tells the story of artist and scientist Michael Flynn, who designed a singing bowl for display in ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As she observed people trying to make the bowl sing, she was surprised, she says, that none of them bothered to read the directions about rocking it gently. Instead, impatient to make music, they kept trying their own ideas. After a few minutes they walked away frustrated and disappointed, as if the bowl was defective. With sweet insight, she says the singing bowl reminds us that we can’t expect life to go well if we ignore the instructions of the Designer.
I couldn’t resist sharing this video of Oskar at play with you. I hope it will be an encouragement to pay attention to the instructions of your Designer, to listen for the sound of God’s voice leading you to all that is meant for you.