My cat has fleas.

(While my cat is a black long hair, this isn’t an actual picture of him, but it certainly looks a lot like he feels right now)

Sitting here, having already gotten scratched and splashed while combing through his fur while giving him a bath, it got me to thinking. (Now go with me here – this is the third bath I’ve had to give the guy in a fairly short period of time, so it’s given me far too much time on my hands.)

It’s not entirely his fault: he’s an indoor cat and we took it for granted that he wouldn’t have a flea problem. The previous owners had dogs and a (now) obvious flea problem. So we’re partly paying for someone else’s fleas. It occurred to me that sin is much like fleas. Sin can latch onto us, though sometimes we may leap into them (or inadvertently play among them). Draining us. Bleeding us. Keeping us from living as free and healthy a life as we should be.

Now, we have adopted him into our family and with such adoption comes certain responsibilities. Adoption means that we’ve made a commitment to him. Like our kids, we do our best to take care of him, to shield him from the things life throws at him, (until, in the case of my kids, they take care of themselves and are responsible for the consequences of their own choices – we can shield people from choices they freely make. We can only hope to teach them to make better choices).

Sometimes, we have to deal with fleas.

Sometimes our fleas get on others – innocents, even (as my kids have been finding out). Sometimes we are treated within community and sometimes in times of isolation. At no time does that mean you have been abandoned. There are many ways to treat fleas, all of them inconvenient at best. It means I may occasionally get scratched while trying to bathe him or get messy as I hold him in my arms combing through his hair. And I have to think that this is a picture of how Christ deals with us and our own fleas, patiently combing through the fur of our lives. And I think that answers the question what would Jesus have me do?

I’m still working on the spiritual implications of having to bomb our house.

Twice.

The cost of being community I guess. Family is putting up with fleas until we can get rid of them. (Not quite the poetry of Lilo & Stitch’s “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.” but it will have to do.)

P.S.

Dear Poppy Z. Brite,

I don’t know if this qualifies me as “a true-blue, A-level cat lover,” but I think I’m in the conversation.

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