by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of Via Media and Director of the Ozanne Foundation
I have recently been adopted by two kittens – brothers born on September 27th. I decided to resist the temptation of calling them Boris and Jeremy – to be fair, neither are good names for a cat – and have instead called them Oscar and Louie. One after my paternal grandfather, in memory of my late father who died in September, and the other after a giant LGBT+ hero of the faith, Louie Crew Clay, who died on November 27th – the day I brought them home.
Despite being born just minutes apart they are strikingly different – just as I’m sure both Oscar Ozanne and Louie Crew Clay would have found themselves to be. These two kittens may be brothers, but that’s where the similarities end. They play with different toys, rest in different places, like different food. They chase each other endlessly around the house, lie in wait for each other, fight and go for each other’s jugulars. And then, when it’s all over, they lie down together, snuggle up and go to sleep. They won’t be separated – you see, they’re brothers.
Of course, it’s got me thinking.
They each seem to see the world very differently. Louie – who was taken away from his mother a little too early and was then returned because the owner decided she wanted a female rather than a male cat – is very cautious. He spent his first few days finding the best places to hide and wouldn’t let me anywhere near him. He’s come around, of course, as it’s amazing what love can do – along with a continual supply of his favourite cat food. Oscar on the other hand couldn’t have felt more at home from the moment he came out of the cat box – confident, strong and with a sense of entitled privilege, he immediately requisitioned my armchair and pillow.
So why am I sharing all this?
It strikes me that after a week which has torn so many within our nation apart, which has shocked and scared and wounded and surprised so many, it’s time we learnt how to live with each other a bit better – especially those who see things rather differently to the way we do.
It may be too soon to be reflecting on all of this, but I for one have been saddened at the way that people have jumped to see the worst rather than the best in each other. They have been quick to pass judgement, to impugn the motives of those they hardly know – on all sides. They have gone for the jugular, bitten deep and hard, with a hope that it would wound and hurt – and frequently it does. They have lain in wait ready to jump and pounce, but without the expectation that at the end of the day they will curl up together, finding support from each other as they share the same bed, our nation.
As it happens this is the first time in a long time that I’ve found myself in a mothering role, otherwise known as the “responsible adult”. I have reflected that it’s impossible to choose who I prefer between my two little men – I love them both equally. Yes, they show their love and affection to me in very differing ways – one will sit on my lap, the other will show me his tummy – but love me they undoubtedly do. To be honest, I don’t really mind how they choose to express this, the important thing is that it is completely natural and not forced – for the moment I try and make them do something they are unhappy with is the moment their purring ceases. The connection is lost.
Just like us – from Stanford in C to Matt Redmond’s Heart of Worship – we each connect differently with the way we seek to worship our Creator God. We all know this, but why are we so (excuse the pun) catty about it? Why do we take it out on those who prefer a different way of expressing their love and adoration for our God?
Wouldn’t it make life so much easier if we could just learn to accept that we are intrinsically different? That we see the world differently. That we interact with the world differently. That we worship and express our love for our Creator differently.
Could we not find a way of recognising the good in those around us, rather than lying in wait to jump on those who hold – in all good conscience – a different understanding of how we can each just “be”? Yes, we can of course disagree, we can argue, we can even go for the jugular at times. But at the end of the day, wouldn’t it be so much more peaceful if we all just could curl up together and go to sleep?
For we’ve brothers (well, and sisters of course) – born of the same flesh and sharing the same lineage.
And perhaps most importantly, loved equally and unconditionally by our Father/Mother God.