Lent: The Holy Spirit and the Chaos of the Cat

March 21, 2021

With all the recent upset over some of Dr. Seuss’ books, I decided to look at some of the Seuss books I own and see what I thought.  

I happened across The Cat in the Hat – not one of my favorites, but a ‘have to have’ for children and grandchildren, so…I have it.  

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between the story and our world today.

With apologies for non-poetic formatting, the first pages read:

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house All that cold, cold, wet day. I sat there with Sally. We sat there, we two .And I said, “How I wish We had something to do!”Too wet to go out And too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all.So all we could do was to Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! And we did not like it Not one little bit!

THEN the children heard a BUMP.

The uninvited, overly self-confident and ever-chaotic Cat in the Hat walked straight into their house! 

But not only the chaos of the Cat!  He brought along his little buddies, Thing One and Thing Two, and things went from bad to worse in the blink of an eye!….

The children had a pet fish who constantly reminded them of who and whose they were. The fish repeatedly cut to the chase: ‘what will your mother say when she gets home?”  Sadly, the children never answered or took a stand against the intrusive Cat and his chaos; they merely became passive witnesses to an increasingly terrible situation. 

+ + +

With the exception of the heroic, beyond-the-call service of our essential workers, and the unimaginable challenges of those who struggle with COVID or have lost loved ones to those insidious spikey viral particles, the book sounds a lot like our situation over the past several months, doesn’t it? 

Because…for the rest of us in the midst of 2020 and 2020 2.0 (which is my take on 2021) we have been bored out of our minds, grumpy, feeling put upon and oppressed. 

All we can think we can do is just Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!  

Then bump!

Uninvited, overly self-assured personalities and concepts invade our physical, emotional, and psychological space – our ‘Cats.’

The consequence? Downright ugly chaos across the board.

Examples? Unfortunately, there are so many to choose from, but here are a few:

  • The Cat: Personalities touting fake news and voter fraud. 
    • The chaos created: Anger and frustration borne of the unwillingness to take personal responsibility to do the research necessary to either support or discredit the claims made.
    • The consequences: Increased division within an already divided nation. 
  • The Cat: COVID-19 and all its horror.
    • The chaos: 
      • Risky gatherings in blatant rejection of scientific guidelines under the guise of individual rights. 
      • Further divisions within an already divided nation
    • The consequence: So many!
      • Spikes in the virus with re-emerging hot spots
      • Continuance of virtual or hybrid learning and businesses unable to rebound.
      • Further division within an already divided nation
  • The Cat: Racial Scapegoating
    • The chaos:
      • Classic ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mindset – refusing to acknowledge of the intrinsic worth of specific peoples because of the perceived threat that other people would be diminished. 
      • Violent attacks on innocent individuals in the name of ‘accountability.’ 
    • The consequence:
      • Increased clashes between the races
      • Increased attacks on the AAPIA community as though as they were personally responsible for COVID. 
      • Unwarranted death and destruction
      • Further divisions within an already divided nation

These are but a few of the uninvited ‘cats’ and the chaos that enters our hearts, souls, and mind – yet, even in these three examples – see how the consequences increase and all examples lead to further division among us?

And what about Thing One and Thing Two?  

Biased ‘news’ media, social (or is it really anti-social?) media, false prophets, co-opted leaders.  We have oh, so many, Thing Ones and Thing Twos to make things go from bad to worse!

+ + +

We may think we are too smart to let any of this impact our thinking and behavior, but perhaps we should think again:

  • We so often only follow news outlets that already agree with us. 
  • We get caught up in conflicts and side choosing as though it were a blood sport or an Internet beat down. 
  • FaceBook and Twitter postings are full of polarized conversations. Innocent postings and Tweets so often spiral due to replies of hate-filled put-downs. At the same time,  contributors often bait others just to get ‘a rise out of folks.’  

The Cat is alive and well – as are his little buddies!  

Except these aren’t the writings in a children’s book – these are circumstances writing our children’s future!

The irony is, we, too, have our ‘fish of knowing’ reminding us of Christ’s teachings of loving compassion and justice informed by mercy, reminding us of who and Whose we are; reminding us that the Cats entering our lives need to be stood up to and shown the door; reminding us that we need to stand against injustice and hate rather than allowing chaos to destroy lives and relationships, and mutate truth for the sake of personal convenience. 

Yet, we are silently passive (what can just one person do, after all, right?), and the chaos grows.

+ + +

At the end of the Seuss book, the chaos is cleaned up, but children still have to deal with the experience and the readers are given their own powerful challenge:  

Then our mother came in And she said to us two, “Did you have any fun? Tell me.  What did you do?” And Sally and I did not know What to Should we tell her The things that went on there that day? Should we tell her about it? Now, what SHOULD we do?  Well…What would YOU do If your mother asked you?

For those of us who follow Christ, at the end of this time of chaos we call 2020/21, were Christ to ask us how we have responded to the entrance of the Cat and the chaos to follow – even if it is cleaned up – how have we responded to the mess in our midst?  (Suggested answers found in the “In the Stillness” Section of this blog)

My prayer is that this Lenten journey has helped us to answer these questions in a way that brings glory to our Lord.  AMEN.

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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