Good Zeal

Of pipes and poppies

It’s been at least a year, probably more, since the evening when Sr. Magdalena heard a feeble cry near the carport and asked me to help her investigate. We traced the cry to an old, concrete-encased horizontal pipe about 2-3 feet above the carport floor. We shone a flashlight into the pipe, and a small pair of eyes glowed back in the darkness. It was a kitten, burrowed too deeply into the pipe for us to reach.

There was nothing we could do but wait, so Sr. Magdalena placed some food inside the pipe and we went up to dinner. Days passed, and we kept watching and waiting, with Sr. Magdalena regularly putting out a bit of cat food near the edge of the pipe. Eventually Kitty B emerged, shy and skittish at first, but now playful, engaging, endearing, and quite the successful hunter. With her throne of gold downstairs in the shop and the wide, Shakespearean collars that she wears as a warning to birds, you’d never guess her Dickensian origins in an abandoned pipe.

And now it’s been at least a week, probably more, since the day when a Sister noticed a poppy growing in a concrete corner just outside the construction zone. The first bud has blossomed and faded, and now a second bud has unfurled like a pink umbrella on a concrete beach. There can’t possibly be much soil for sustenance, but sunlight and rain have offered their nourishing hands and the flower has thrived.

We don’t know how a poppy seed found its way to the concrete walk, or how a young kitten ended up in the pipe, but both are reminders that life and blessing can be found in the most unexpected of places. And both call us to be loving hands that nourish life, even in places and circumstances of apparent desolation.

Postscript: Kitty B is a source of delight to us all. Her bright wide collars, which do a good job of alerting the local birds to her presence, are her trademark look. Even Sr. Kathleen Christa’s artwork in the construction tunnel features Kitty B wearing one of her big, ruffled collars. Thanks to Sr. Therese for the great picture of Kitty B above.

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