Friday, July 2, 2010

* Solstice: Found along the road in Vermont


Solstice is the name the vet gave her. She's 14-weeks-old and I adopted her three days ago. She was found all alone, at the side of a Vermont road, when she was 8-weeks-old and transported to the veterinarian.

Roland Bainton, the great Reformation scholar who spent 70 years at Yale as both student and professor, once lamented to me the impersonality of "institutionalized giving" as a substitute for face-to face-charity.

I did not know what he meant at the time (circa 1980)  and I'm not sure I know even now.

However, as I reflect on the protection and care and resources I am affording this tiny bundle of life, and juxtapose that with the immense suffering in humankind all over the world, I wonder how I can justify spending my money and time on a frivolity like a kitten, when I could be sending that money to a charity for starving children!

Perhaps what Dr. Bainton was getting at was the loss of "connection" which the modern world has so neatly accomplished by aggregating everything into bureaucratic units ("delivery systems"----which, by the way, if Haiti  and Hurricane Katrina are  examples, don't  always "deliver").

This kitten is a "delivery system" of joy to me.

I marvel at its courage in confronting and taming my dogs at just 14-weeks-old.  Within a day she way playing with their tails and  the Bassett Hounds' ears, as if they were toys.  I had forgotten the  explosion of energy which babies in all species exhibit, and then their sudden conk-outs ,as sleep overcomes them. 

 Yesterday she fell asleep sitting up.

And I feel useful in having saved one tiny link in the chain-of-being from hardship and loneliness.

I recall a friend of mine who refused to get another pet when he was 70 years old and his dog and cat had died.  He said, it "wouldn't be fair to them" since "he didn't know how long he would live."

Today he is 97 and lived, fully mobile by himself,  until 96.  All those 26-years without a pet, protecting them from the death that has not arrived even now. Few dogs or cats would have outlived that 26 years.

I'm 65. I could live another 30 years or another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, I'll take care of my pets. Trotter is fourteen years old ( (98+ by human standards) and Nemo, the Bassett Hound, is around nine ( 56 in human terms).  Solstice at 14 weeks is nearing two human years.

As Candide says in Voltaire's work of the same name, Il faut cultiver notre jardin.  

It is necessary to cultiavte our garden.

I put the emphasis on the personal pronoun: OUR garden, as opposed to the world's garden. (Ironically, this blog defies that injunction, cultivating the world's garden, minding everyone else's business , instead of my own! Ah technology!)

And perhaps that is what Dr. Bainton meant: give to those in your own sphere of influence, not an institution's sphere of influence.


And receive.

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