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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Doing Church in COVID


I originally wrote this for my church’s newsletter but thought other cat slaves might enjoy it as well.

I miss physical church, the communal singing, the greetings and nods to people I know, and just the feeling of being part of a larger community. But at least one member of our family is happy about virtual church and won’t like it when we return to attending live. Meet Pipsqueak, the spoiled tabby that shares our home with us. Back before COVID, it was a standing joke between my husband and me to say to the cat on our way out the door, “Goodbye, Pipsqueak. Sorry we can’t take you to church, but you’d be too much of a disruption.”

And she would have been, too. Can you imagine a poor, unsuspecting cat from a childless household being set loose among a bunch of preschoolers? Squeals of joy would be followed by a hissy fit (that would be Pipsqueak), ending in the loud howls of the poor toddler who got scratched trying to pat the “nice kitty.” And possibly by the nearest adult as Pipsqueak climbed up them in a panic to reach safety. There’d be a lesson learned, all right, but not the one the teacher meant to cover.

After we’d retrieved her and brought her into the sanctuary with us, things wouldn’t be any better. She’d probably perch herself on my husband’s shoulders where she’d feel safer, which would draw a lot of attention. Or she’d be frightened and wriggle out of our grasp and run away to hide. Ditto. Or she’d start off across the pews, crossing everyone’s lap in turn until she found one that was congenial. Or run in front of someone and trip them as they’re going up the aisle.

But church in the living room is different. Once the laptop is up and running, I sit on the couch and my husband grabs the comfy chair (makes for a bigger lap). Pipsqueak jumps up on him and settles down, purring happily since she knows he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I would have thought the noise would bother her but as long as the worship team doesn’t play anything that sounds like ringing phones or doorbells, she naps peacefully and my husband’s legs remain unscratched from a frantic leap off his lap, claws dug in for traction.

If it’s communion Sunday, we need to bribe her to keep her away from our pieces of bread. She doesn’t understand communion, but, just like a toddler, she understands that we’re getting “snacks” and she wants her fair share. Cat treats are perfectly acceptable (better her than me). We get fed spiritually and she gets to spend time with her people. And isn’t that part of what church is about?

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