As mentioned, we have two new kittens. They came to us with names from their “foster home,” but we’re living with them to see what fits our own experience of and with them.
We already have a host of names that stem from simply watching them and playing with them: Ms. Stalk and Pounce, Mr. Arched Back while Sideways Hopping, Ms. Hiss and Spit, Mr. Snuggle, Ms. Poof, Mr. Litterbox, Ms. Purrrrr, Mr. Snoooooze, Ms. Fluff, Mr. Stretch, Ms. Scratch, Mr. Mellow Until We’re Ready for Bed …. These are the names that have emerged out of our delighted fascination with them, our celebration of them and the newness of the joy of our experience with them.
What happens when we get used to having them around? When we’re no longer as attentive? What will it mean when the joy of being observant no longer revels in an ever new naming?
That’s just the way it goes, right? True for all our relationships. But there is the surprise, even amidst that which has come to be taken for granted, of being reminded of why a particular name was so much fun. There is the wonder, even within the familiar, of a brand new name made manifest. And there is also the discipline of maintaining a level of interest from the new through the familiar. That’s what makes someone observant, right? An observant Christian, for example. An observant spouse, parent, friend. It’s not just a matter of keeping ones eyes open, but a matter of being faithful … of making the commitment to ongoing observation.
(By the way, we were complimenting our youngest one day on being observant. We were in the car and, as she is want to do, she had pointed something out. She notices so much. I said, “You are so observant.” She wanted to know what observant meant. I said, “It means you keep your eyes open. You see what’s there around you to see. A lot of people don’t.” She said, “I’m learning from a friend at school. She never blinks!” Now that would be a good math project, wouldn’t it. How much of life do we miss because we blink?)
How much do we miss by not being observant? Not being mindful? Not being attentive? Not being committed? Not being faithful?
We might simply dismiss being observant as a matter of personality: I am either observant or I’m not. But being observant within faith traditions implies choice and commitment. I will be observant. I have decided … and names abound.