On the unexpected gifts

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith is sitting on the table in a veterinary office. I’m sitting on a vinyl-cushioned bench next to him, wondering if I should get him a tissue for the wad of snot on his cheek.

Vader–my cat (and yes, on his paperwork, the above mentioned honorific title is his full name)–has been my friend for twelve years now. When I adopted him, they said he was eight weeks old, but he was too small to be eight weeks. He didn’t even weigh enough to be neutered yet; I had to take him back two weeks later. I’m guessing he was more like five or six weeks old.

I had gone to the Humane Society looking for something specific. I had imagined in my mind a perfect little fluffy, all-white female kitten. When I saw a tiny little timid, black male, however, I completely forgot what I’d been seeking. He was cowering in a corner, having been bullied by his cage-mate, who was a little grey tabby girl, not much bigger than he was. On the cage-card, someone had indicated that his name was Ivan. They do that at most shelters: give strays names. He didn’t look like Ivan to me, though.

He was so tiny it was sort of novel, like he was a little marvel. How could a cat be so little? He fit in my hand. I expected him to be small forever. Not tiny, but little. Petite.

He now weighs roughly 18 pounds, which is significantly more than half the dogs I see people walking. Sometimes I call him monster. He’s still a marvel, but in a much different way.

Life can be funny. I went into the shelter with something specific in mind. Something I wanted. I came away with something entirely different and unexpected.

I wonder now, as we sit here waiting for a vet to come in and prescribe an antibiotic and corticosteroid, if part of what I’ve been missing in my life is that willingness to deviate from my expectations. Some of the best things in my life have come from unexpected places. Relationships, friends, experiences. Even little things, like the best laughs, often come in ways I don’t anticipate.

Earlier today, I quoted a passage from James, and I’m thinking about that again now. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

I think it’s time for me to stop looking to receive the gifts I have in mind, and begin to find joy in the gifts that find me.


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