A lesson in never giving up

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Every piece of clothing I own has cat hair on it. All right, that's an exaggeration. It does seem that way sometimes, though.

Last Sunday before church, someone approached me to say, "Uh, Jeff, the back of your sweater vest is covered in cat hair." A few quick swipes with the lint roller took care of that. Detritus of feline fur is part and parcel of living with cats -- and my wife and I have owned cats for 30 years.

Cats are singular creatures. They don't really need humans. Rather, they permit you to share living space with them. (Every cat owner reading this column is nodding the head in agreement at this point.)

There is much to admire. They can fall asleep anywhere and for long periods of time. They clean themselves. They are not silent, but they are usually quiet. Best of all, from my point of view, cats are not in the habit of making sharp noises. One more admirable attribute: they use the litter box; there is no need to take a cat outside when duty calls.

The other day, an article in Christian Century magazine caught my eye about a certain blind cat. The cat's owner reports that her unsighted cat walks into walls regularly and yet never gives up.

The owner says she takes inspiration from her feline. If her cat doesn't give up, maybe she shouldn't either.

Paul the apostle, you may recall, has a word or two to say about perseverance. Maybe St. Paul owned a cat.

Approximately 1.3 million people are considered legally blind in the United States, meaning their sight is 20/200 or worse. One of those 1.3 million is an amazing musician who will be in Cape Girardeau next weekend.

Singer-songwriter Ken Medema has been blind since birth. His vision is far worse than 20/200.

The best Ken can do is to be aware that a room has light; he can distinguish, very vaguely, solid shapes. But he has never seen a face, never read a book, never seen a sunset. Yet his music will convince you that he has done all these things.

Ken doesn't walk into walls, but he has help to get from place to place. He certainly doesn't have an easy path in a decidedly visual American culture. When he is with us next Sunday at Centenary United Methodist Church, someone will guide him to the piano and synthesizer. Once he is there, his hands and his voice produce magic.

One Medema song known to many congregations is "Lord, Listen to Your Children Prayin'." When Ken is here, he will invite people to tell them a story about themselves -- perhaps about the best day they've ever had. Ken will then compose a song about what he hears -- on the spot. Not too many people can do that.

If you need some inspiration, Ken Medema is one cool cat. He'll be in worship at Centenary at 8:45 and 11 a.m. Jan. 15. He will offer a benefit concert that same day at 3 p.m. I hope you can be with us.

The Rev. Dr. Jeff Long is senior pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau.

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