For the past month or so, my grade school nephews Gino and Darwin and niece Chloe, and I have been taking care of a cat and her kitten. For reasons known only to Gino and Chloe, they have named the cat “Angelica.”
From Angelica’s pregnancy until this time, we have been feeding her several times a day with the leftover food – mostly bones of chicken and fish. She waits patiently at the door while we’re eating and eagerly feeds on what we give her.
Needless to say, she’s a well-fed cat and her kitten’s a well-fed baby. Three weeks ago, when Angelica wasn’t around, Gino, Darwin, and I tried to get the kitten to drink some milk (Enfapro, Bonamil, or just coffe creamer, I don't remember now). We placed the milk in a small container, held the kitten by the head, and dunked its mouth several times into the milk.
Okay, okay, most of you might be thinking right now that I have run out of topics to write about and so I have begun writing about trivial things most blogs are notorious for. On the contrary, the point of this post is all about relationships.
Relationships a significant factor in living healthier and longer
James S. House of the University of Michigan said, “The data indicates that social isolation is as significant to mortality as high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of physical exercise.” A study by the University of California at Berkeley found that “adults who do not cultivate nurturing relationships, refusing even to own a pet, have premature death rates twice as high as those with frequent caring contact.”
Did you get that? You could die early not only because of high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of physical exercise, but also because of loneliness or social isolation. If you refuse to be involved in relationships (with other men and women, or even with a pet), you could die early too.
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, in their book “Relationships” (1998), hit the nail squarely on the head when they said, “Today more than ever, people long for connection.” The tremendous success and popularity of social interaction websites are rock solid evidence of their observation. Facebook, started about four years ago by a college student, now has more than 40 million registered users worldwide. My Space probably has a hundred million or more users. YouTube, the immensely popular publish your own video Internet service, reached more than ten million members in Japan in just 14 months. After Yahoo and Google, perhaps the most popular site among Filipinos is Friendster.
Which brings me back to Angelica and her kitten …
I turned 51 last September, I am not married, and I don’t have children. I don’t know how to use My Space, Yahoo Messenger, and I don’t like Facebook or Friendster. But I do have Angelica and her kitten. But the last week or so, I have seen Angelica and her kitten going “neighboring” in our subdivision. A few weeks from today, that kitten would be off to fend for itself, and Angelica would, true to her feline nature, be looking for another mate. So where does that leave me? Social isolation, heart disease, premature death … No! No! No! Hmm, every day on my way home, I see a lot of stray cats roaming the streets. Perhaps, I can bring several big sacks with me tomorrow and … Yes! Yes! Yes!
Relationships literally a life and death issue
The Parrotts’ book “Relationships” is a great read. It is divided into these chapters: Our Longing for Belonging; The Compulsion for Completion; Keeping the Family Ties from Pulling Strings; Crossing the Gender Line; Friends to Die For; What to Do When Friends Fail; Falling in Love Without Losing Your Mind; Sex, Lies and the Great Escape; Breaking Up Without Falling Apart; and Relating To God Without Feeling Phony.
The book is locally reprinted by Christian Literature Crusade and is readily available in bookstores. Perhaps the most memorable line from the book is on page 27 that goes like this, “When your goal is to be needed, you’re not to going to attract the healthiest of people. Any generic boyfriend or girlfriend will do.”
Marasmus, as defined in medical dictionaries, is the “chronic wasting of body tissues, growth retardation, especially in young children, commonly due to prolonged dietary deficiency of protein and calories.” As narrated by Drs. Les and Leslie in their book, when doctors during World War II diagnosed marasmus for the first time, the problem and the solution were merely thought to be a matter of good nutrition. But, despite good nutrition and pleasant living quarters, a group of orphaned babies kept dying of marasmus. The solution UN doctors came up with was simple but immediately effective: nurses who took care of the babies were told to hug, kiss, play with, and talk to the babies.
Our deepest desire: To know and be known
One of my favorite writers is John Eldredge (The Sacred Romance; The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We’ve Only Dreamed Of; Wild at Heart: Discovering The Secret of a Man’s Soul). I gave my two copies of “The Sacred Romance” to friends. The books, available in OMF and PCBS, are quite expensive at more than three hundred pesos each, but they are worth every single centavo.
In the book “The Journey of Desire” (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2000 copyright), page 126, Eldredge states:
There is an aloneness, an incompleteness, that we experience every day of our lives. How often do you feel deeply and truly known? Is there another soul to whom a simple glance is all that is necessary to communicate depth of understanding? Do you have someone you can commune in love? This is our inconsolable longing – to know and be known.
We are indeed truly known
Pastor John Piper in his book “The Pleasures of God” (locally reprinted by CGM) explains that God was perfectly happy within the fellowship of the Trinity but in His mysterious and sovereign plan, He created man to have fellowship (read that “relationship”) with Him.
Psalms 139 probably best sums up what this kind of relationship is supposed to be like:
1. O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
5. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8. If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10. Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18. If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22. I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.