Sunday, August 01, 2021

Rev, Klockers: When head-scratching behavior begins to make sense

| February 24, 2021 1:00 AM

Matthew 5:43-44 (from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible) says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

We have a multiple-cat household. Two of these cats were rescued off of the street. They were born underneath the storage shed we have out back.

Some critters (possibly skunks) dug holes around the base of the structure to reveal a crawl space underneath. Apparently, this was the perfect place for a pregnant cat to have her kittens.

There were two kittens from her litter who discovered us while they were desperately foraging for food. We eventually adopted them both and they became inside-the-home cats. They are about a year and a half old now.

There is one thing that distresses me about them. They have a horrible habit. They roll around in the litter box. It just drives me crazy. When I catch one doing that, I scold them: “Stop that! That’s not the beach, it’s the toilet!”

Up until a short while ago, I blamed their mother. I reasoned she likely taught them this disgusting habit.

The other day, after once again observing this behavior, I Googled “cat rolling around in the litter box.”

What I discovered surprised me. This is actually normal behavior. Such activity can be referred to as “dust bathing.” In nature, a cat may instinctively roll around in dirt for a number of reasons, which include marking territory or providing relief from skin irritation.

I had no idea. Cats actually benefit from doing something that I once considered to be a real head-scratcher.

Jesus often acted in ways that must have made his followers (and others) scratch their heads. Among them was a call to love one’s enemies. At first reading this makes little sense and seems quite unrealistic, and could be described as rather odd behavior.

It’s asking a lot. However, if one remains open to the possibility, there are a number of benefits.

Hate can be all-consuming. It can dominate our lives and make us miserable. It may rob us of quality of life.

It can be of great benefit to cast off hate through some form of release rather than retribution.

Jesus gives us a way of doing so. He says “pray for those who persecute you.”

In the past, I have prayed to God with my challenges in letting go this kind of hate. I have admitted my inability to fully do so and petitioned God for help.

The best I could do toward “love” was to pray to God to bless this person. It was a start.

Praying to God to simply “bless them” (instead of smite them) is a small step toward love.

It may be all we are capable of at the moment.

God will understand. And that’s not a head-scratcher.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.