A feral calico cat who has lurked around our barn for months has transformed into a love-hungry creature that follows our family around lookin’ for love. If you would ask Patches, I believe she would agree with me that love is the most transformational force in the world.

My wife, Christine, nicknamed her Patches several months ago as she hid in the tall grass at the edge of our property. My wife is a sucker for animals and soon had a sack of cat food in my shop. Even when we’re on vacation, we make sure someone feeds Patches and her friend, Brutus, a long-haired black cat that wears a trench coat loaded with stolen watches and black market cigarettes. If Patches is the dainty Princess of the feline world, then Brutus is Rocky Balboa.

Patches has never let either of us get within twenty feet of her. However, she recently decided to let my wife pet her. Once the lovin’ began, Patches can’t get enough. Desperate for love, Patches will raise upright with her front legs hanging by her side like a Meer Cat just to get you to pet her.

Naturally, our inside animals are going bonkers. They see public displays of affection towards the outside cat and they run in circles barking like a bunch of drunken spring breakers on a beach. Even the inside cat started barking. They called the cops, went online to start a petition, and hastily drafted a letter to Congress.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life listening to and reading people who write about religion. I’ve studied the primary sources of every major religion in the world. I’m curious about who God is and, obviously, there are a lot of opinions about the nature of God; some are quite contradictory. In fact, if I were God, I’d hire a new marketing firm and get new spokespeople.

I raised my sons in a faith tradition, but I knew one day their faith had to be their own. I knew they’d hear a plethora of religious pundits who offered themselves as the voice of God; my sons needed some guidance. So I taught them to filter new and different ideas about God through this litmus test that I use:

  1. Does is help you love God more?
  2. Does it help you love your self more?
  3. Does it help you love your neighbor?
  4. Does it help you love your enemy?

Jesus said to love one another, and  by this, all people will know you follow me. The Apostle Paul said that we can speak with the tongue of men and angels, but if we don’t have love then it sounds like an out-of-tune musical instrument. Paul also said that the greatest virtue is love. Jesus even told us to love our enemies. Ouch, that last one really hurts.

So, apparently, love is a big thing to God. Like, maybe, the most important thing to God?

Patches taught us a lot this week about leaning in to love. Maya Angelous said, “Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world but has not solved one.” But I’ve seen love solve a lot of problems.

Brutus is in our sights next to win over with love. He’ll be a bit tougher; I’m sure I’ll have to buy some contraband off of him to establish trust.

I wonder if he has any Cuban cigars?

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