Bailey nips at me every morning when I scratch him. He is excited about our morning time together, so eager and present. His purring is loud and intense, and it seems as if he cannot stand the anticipation. When I start scratching, he rolls his head around my hand over and over and then suddenly, boom…he nips. I pull my hand away and say harshly, “No biting, Bailey!” He tucks his head, looks slightly forlorn, and so I start again. We repeat this little ritual until he is able to calm down. Then the nipping stops, and I wonder. Is it too much for him to bear, too much goodness? Does he realize his nipping could eventually discourage me, even stop me? Is it possible that cats sabotage themselves like humans do?
Too much good. I’ve seen this happen before, in my own life and those of so many others. Things are going along well. We could take time to celebrate. There could be dancing and singing with abandon, howling at the moon and partying. And then somehow, we nip. The hand is gone, the purring stops, the mood is over. Things are no longer good. We have sabotaged.
I am trying to understand this. Why do I sabotage the goodness in my own life? Am I unable to tolerate it? Do I think I don’t deserve it? I forget to breathe it in, trusting the goodness of the present moment and allowing it to nurture me. Am I afraid it will go away, so I take control by making a preemptive strike, assuming I am undeserving of the gift of goodness? Do I nip at the hand that is feeding me, loving me, nurturing me, providing me sustenance on many levels? Do I tempt that hand, seeing if it will indeed go away?
The liturgical season of Advent is almost here. We will be preparing for the greatest goodness, the greatest gift which will come our way once again and perpetually. We are, the Gospel tells us, to be prepared to receive this, the ultimate of gifts. If we aren’t prepared, and who could actually be, it will be like plugging a 480 volt plug into a 120 volt outlet. Sparks will fly and we will short circuit. It will be too much to bear. We are being given the gift of Love. Will we be able to tolerate it? Are we prepared? Or will we sabotage, believing that we are unworthy to receive this Gift?
While we sabotage, God waits. It is God, the Great Lover, who waits for us while we get ourselves ready. God waits as we prepare ourselves to receive the great goodness, the great creation, the great gift of Life. God waits while we prepare ourselves to tolerate the ultimate, unconditional Love. God waits while we remember that we are created in a holy image, an image that is inside each and everyone of us. God waits while we allow Love to change us and transform our very being. And then once we are changed, God waits while we offer the gift of Love to others and to the world.
Thank you, God, for waiting on me again. You are indeed good at waiting. Thank you that the ultimate gift is already given. Help me be able to tolerate this marvelousness. Help me to embrace the truth of it. Prepare me to be transformed by the constant gift of yourself in me and to the world. Thank you for allowing me to nip at you until I can settle down enough to receive the amazing goodness that you are offering me. Amen.
Amy Sander Montanez, D.Min., has been a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage & family therapist and spiritual director for over twenty years. She blogs weekly at messymarvelous.com.