Cultivate Thankfulness: Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:15-17 - The Message)
Recently, I've been taking some heat from the cat. No, seriously. Darth Maul - otherwise known as "The coolest cat to ever prowl the neighborhood" - has expressed some serious angst regarding all this "Scout for President" noise, the "Dog Blog," and all the various attention our oversized, galumphing Scout Labradoodle has been generating since the day she arrived home.
So, far be it from me to treat the pets with anything other than complete parity. Here's a little love for Mr. Darth.
Darth arrived on the scene back in 1999. He was abandoned in the neighborhood and hung around our house for a few days, just to see what might happen.
Coincidentally, that was about the same time "STAR WARS: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" was released. A new dad-guy character burst onto the scene, the apprentice to the evil Sith Lord. His name, Darth Maul. Well, two things were immediately obvious. First, the name of the mysterious black cat. Second, where he was going to live.
I even wrote a commentary for the Tampa Tribune that featured my photograph alongside that of the sinister Star Wars character. The legend read "Derek Maul; Darth Maul. Same last name; not related." That day I was stopped by someone on the street in downtown Tampa - it was possibly the only time I've ever been asked to autograph an op-ed column in the newspaper!
But I tell you, this cat turned out to be the sweetest feline ever. He snuggles, he follows Rebekah around the garden, he doesn't need to be sedated at the vet's (he waits quietly, talks back just a little, and allows them to do what they need to do), he let's Scout get away with sticking her nose in his face, he knocks on the front door when he wants to come in, he talks to you. Young adults who have house-sat when we travel come back to visit - not with us so much as to spend a little time with Darth.
One day, when he was four years old, Darth had a terrible accident. We're not sure exactly what happened, but he had a deep, penetrating, 3rd-degree burn on his neck. It was huge, and he thought he was going to die.
Darth was so convinced he was going to die that (rather than come home and tell us he'd been hurt) he found a quiet, secluded place under a neighbor's hedgerow and prepared for the end. Fortunately, Doreen happened to hear something. She went to investigate, thought she recognized the cat, and came to get us.
After our vet (Valrico Animal Clinic) saved his life, Darth hid under our guest bed during recovery. I had to crawl under the bed to give him his medicine. Eventually, after a couple of weeks on the brink, he pulled through. He has lived ever since as if he remembers, and is grateful.
I've decided that conscious gratitude is a game-changer in terms of how we live. People could learn a lot from Darth Maul. It seems to me that there's seldom a day that goes by that I don't remember to pause and give thanks for my family, all my blessings, my life, the fact that I'm forgiven, and the amazing truth that God loves me.
Living in that kind of awareness affects everything. I'm convinced of it.
Peace - DEREK