Yesterday, as I replaced hand towels in the bathroom and prepared to clean the mirrors, I heard the cat meowing on the other side of the closed door. Well, actually, the door was slightly ajar. This cat hates closed doors – or even doors that are mostly closed. If she’s outside, she wants in; if she’s inside, she wants to go out. She seems almost obsessed with getting to the other side of a door.
So, I watched as she pushed the door open and walked into the bathroom. Immediately, she looked around as if to say, “Is this all there is?” She peered into the corners and under the towel rack, then looked at me and said, “Meow.” She promptly turned around and left the room.
I smiled. Don’t we humans do the same thing? Why is it so hard for us to be content with where we are and what we have?
I think it’s because we aren’t truly grateful for where we are and what we have. We know we’re supposed to be grateful – and we might even say we are – but deep inside, we’re searching for some new person, object, career, location or set of beliefs to bring us satisfaction and fulfillment. When we do manage to push through doors that seem to be opening, we’re often left with a sense of disappointment.
In 2004, after my mother’s death, I became obsessed with the idea that God had always been calling me to be a nun. I used the internet to research religious life and religious communities. I made phone calls and wrote letters. I visited monasteries and hermitages in Virginia, Idaho, Arkansas and Wisconsin. No matter how hard I tried, I kept running into closed doors. I was told I was too old, too psychologically weak, too divorced, etc.
Finally, in 2007, I was accepted into a hermitage. The door opened and I went inside. At first, I was thrilled to be where I thought God wanted me to be. However, within a few weeks, I was severely disappointed to witness all kinds of unholy conversations and actions by people who were supposed to be my superiors and teachers. I, unlike the cat, was too stubborn and proud to admit I’d made a mistake – and turn around and leave. I believed God wanted me there and I was going to endure anything to please Him.
I left seven months later. “Disappointed” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. As I looked back, the entire seven-and-a-half months seemed like a dream. I began to put the pieces of my old life back together: home, friends, job, church. Being back where I’d started was depressing at first – until I learned to see the possibilities that existed right there.