About a week ago, a family of stray cats moved into my back yard. I noticed them one morning, hanging out the washing. They were sitting under the banana trees our landlord planted, Mum and her seven little kittens, gorgeous and wild. I spent a lot of time sitting on a step downstairs, smiling as I watched these kittens learn to play. They jumped and tried to climb a little, taking obvious delight in prancing through the long grass. I could get only so close before they would whisk away through a hole in the fence to take refuge under the next-door neighbour’s shed. Mum pretty much ignored my presence, but she always let me know when I was getting a little too close to the family.
There was one magical moment, around dusk. The kittens must have been in their hideaway, but Mum was in the garden. I filled up a container of water for her, and placed it somewhere in the space between us. I sat back on my step and we watched each other. She drank. And then she approached me. I put out my hand. She spoke. She bumped her head up to me and I stoked this scrawny, wild cat. I felt her vulnerability. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised by the encounter. It got darker and she returned to her place under the banana trees.
Our Lenten journey is one which takes us into wild places and surprising meetings. For following Jesus will bring us to unexpected places and encounters. Following will take us to the wild places, those places of our own hearts and lives we try to hide from ourselves and each other; the darkness we try to ignore within our cultures and society; the pathos of a world ravaged by violence and power plays. Jesus calls us to drop our masks and be gathered up into his way of love, vulnerability and all. And in some strange mystery of grace, even while the Holy Spirit doesn’t tame the wildness of our lives and our community, we will experience moments of intimacy, connection, joy, and hope.
Will we dare come?
Will we dare follow?
Will we enter the wild places of our lives?