Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blessing of the Christmas Purr

Blessing of the Christmas Purr

According to an ancient myth, there was a mother cat present when the baby Jesus was born. There, in the dove-cooing softness of the manger, kittens were born and a cat did purr. And, it is said, that this sound has been a blessing ever since.

There are many stories about Jesus and his love of animals - especially cats. In one such tale, Jesus finds a young cat upon the road. She suffers from neglect, but Jesus speaks soothing words to her, and carries her to a village where she is fed. Afterwards, he gives the cat to a disciple, a poor widow. It is she, the story goes, who is blessed by this cat's peaceful purr.

The widow then asks Jesus, "You care for all creatures - are they not your brothers and sisters, that you love them so?"

He answers, "Verily, they come from the great household of the Father, and they draw the same breath that you draw. And whosoever cares for the least of these, and gives it food to eat, and drink in its need, he shall do the same unto me."

Such a thought touched the famous explorer, Lincoln Ellsworth, in 1935, as he flew over Antarctica, some two thousand years after Jesus' birth. Traveling across the frozen tundra of a world untouched, and even unsought, by humanity, Ellsworth wondered what fate had brought him on such a lonely mission.

As he soared above the glittery waste, unfit for man or beast, he wondered, "Why am I here on this Christmas Eve?"

Yet over the airplane's steady roar, he seemed to hear a gentler noise. It was the solitary purr of the cat he'd carried with him on this, the first 2,300 mile, single-engine airplane flight over the Antarctic.

"Yes," he confirmed, "I brought along the right mascot for the trip, a cat that has given birth to kittens this very night."

So it was, that another wayfarer was blessed by the solace of a purr on that most holy of nights, Christmas Eve.


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