Everything You Need

Photo by Eric Han on Unsplash

This morning, I overheard my daughter reassuring our highly anxious indoor cat. "You have everything you need, Perfect," she said.

Due to her anxiety, Perfect mostly lives in my bedroom - napping on the bed and birdwatching through the glass of eight large windows. She rarely meows, refuses to sit in a lap, and keeps to herself most days. But she does get quite communicative sometimes, at the beginning or end of the day. 

If you happen to be upstairs at such a time, she'll catch you in the hallway with a wide-mouthed but nearly silent, "eh." Hardly loud enough to hear, this is her most urgent cry. If you respond by making eye contact, she will lead you down the hallway, looking back frequently, urgently checking to be sure you're following, until she reaches my bedroom where her water and food bowls sit. 

"Eh!" she declares, when you reach her bowls. She looks up to be sure you see what she means and rubs against your legs and the doorframe with her tail on high alert. Most often she already has food and water, plenty. 

I don't know why she leads us there, so urgently, like Lassie leading Timmy's parents to the well where Timmy has once again fallen in and is in danger of drowning. I often hold extended conversations with Perfect there in the doorway, with her food and water bowl nearby.

"What?" I ask. "What do you need?"

"Eh," she says in reply. Sometimes she just opens her mouth in the shape of a meow and not a single sound comes out. 

This, I know, is what happened with my daughter this morning. Perfect found her in the hallway, getting ready for school, and led her urgently to the bowls, which we already full. 

"You have everything you need, Perfect," my daughter assured her. 

The compassion in those words, the reassurance touched me deeply. I was reminded of the well-known Wendell Berry poem, The Wild Geese, in which geese seen flying overhead invite the poet and reader to return to trust; to return to the "ancient faith" in which it is known that "what we need is here."

I have seen this poem, or excerpts of it, shared so frequently online and at retreats. It offers a reassurance we so often need. It offers an invitation to trust and, somehow, manages to convince us that such trust (as is so often exhibited in the natural world) is not foolhardy. 

Those words are a comfort to me, but I wonder how they might sit with those who truly lack basic needs. What if, say, Perfect's food bowl was empty, her water bowl bone dry? 

Wendell's words don't hit me, though, as a pat response to urgent need. His words invite us, unmet needs and all, to a trust that runs deeper and wider than our current abundance or lack. Maybe he's hinting at something like those familiar marriage vows - for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health - offering an affirmation that there is a current of love that runs deeper than any current circumstance. 

Maybe that's something of what I read into my daughter's words this morning - a comment, not just on the Perfect's current situation, but on the truth of her life. "You have everything you need, Perfect." 

Everything you need. 

May it be so. 

A Sense of Hope

It was 55 and sunny one day last week. The grass was too soggy to walk our usual loop around the yard, but my husband and I did take a mid-day trip back to check on the beehives. This is the time of year when bees are most likely to starve. Hungry new brood are hatching, and pollen sources remain sparse, so my husband loaded their hive boxes with store-bought pollen patties and large, white blocks of homemade fondant. 

The sun and warmth had the bees spring cleaning, active and filled with life. They rushed in and out of the hive, nearly clogging the entrance in their hurry. Some of the returning bees’ legs were coated in heavy yellow pollen. We lifted the hive's roof and watched some gorging on fondant and pollen. Other bees worked steadily, carrying dead bees out of the hive and dropping them in a large pile just beyond the entrance. 

The bees put me, also, in the mood to tidy and prep. I went to work cutting back the remains of last year’s perennials from a small flower bed, making way for the green that’s already breaking through. Later, I met a friend for a walk at a park just down the road. There were people – old and young - walking dogs, biking, pushing baby strollers. They buzzed and looped the parks trails pouring from their houses and cars, like the honeybees pouring from their hives. 

I felt such love for the people I saw walking, jogging, sitting out in the sun and warmer air. I felt proud of them for getting out, for making it nearly to this winter’s end. A sense of relief was in in the air – a much needed sense of hope.