Lessons From Shiro

What can we learn from the little guy in our lives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night we went to our church small group which meets at the house of a pair of vets. Allie sat in a chair with a footstool and one of their cats was just lying on it next to Allie’s Bible. From time to time, some jokes would be made about that, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Growing up, our family pretty much always had a cat. Dogs are okay to me, but I’m the rare guy that’s more in favor of cats. I suppose it’s because cats are less forward and just mind their own business. Allie is more of a dog person who has never been into cats.

Until we found one while looking for a new apartment that wormed its way into her heart. This cat had been abandoned by his previous owners and was just living off of whatever he could find. The tenants were starting to complain and when we came one day, we realized they were going to take him to the pound. We told them we’d take him and we did. He has been ours ever since.

Allie chose the name Shiro for him. Shiro is the Japanese word for white. (It’s a real mystery why she thinks that’s a fitting name isn’t it?) Shiro is a great addition to our family. We can often get a little bit of joy just seeing him throughout the day and everything he does is either silly or pathetic to us, but it doesn’t change our love for him.

Recently we even spoke to a doctor who had recommended a dog for Allie. Allie said we couldn’t because we have a cat who doesn’t like other animals. The doctor said to just get rid of the cat then to which both of us immediately shouted back, “NO!”

Yep. That suggestion was never made again.

I have also told Allie many times before that Shiro can teach us a lot about theology. Of course, there are differences in the relationship between owners and their pets and between God and man, but there are similarities. Let’s look at this.

Of course, cats can do some things for their owners. Growing up, we got our first cat because we lived in a mobile home and we had a problem with mice. Every other cat after that has been good with getting mice, but that hasn’t been the reason. For Allie and I, when we lived in Tennessee, Shiro did manage to take care of a couple of mice for us. We remember one morning waking up at around 5:30 to a “ROWR!” sound. I somehow knew immediately Shiro had killed a mouse and one could picture the gaming voice just saying “Fatality!”

There is also the comfort factor. Many times Allie can especially get a burst of cheer out of seeing Shiro and when she’s depressed, he can help her out greatly. None of that is being denied.

Yet still, we don’t normally get a pet out of need. More often, it’s just because we like them and want to show some affection to them. In the same way, we do not exist because God needs us in any way. We could say that maybe sometimes we bring Him joy, but there is no reason to think that we bring more joy than the Trinity already has in the divine fellowship.

As I sit here also, it’s almost 9 A.M. with my writing. Shiro has a food machine that goes off and feeds him every 12 hours and the first time is at 9. Shiro is sitting in here whining, which he often does relentlessly, begging to be fed. Allie and I always get amazed. We do not leave him to starve. He always gets his food. Still, every morning and evening, it is as if he forgets and thinks he has to remind us, to which he has never had any success. The lesson is never learned.

In the same way, how many times has God provided for us? Romans says He won’t hold back since He already gave us His own Son. You would think we would learn, but no. Just as soon as we have another bit of suffering come in our lives, we’re whining again as if God has never done anything in the past.

The sad thing for us is, we have the rationality to know better.

Maybe we’re the pathetic ones.

There’s also the point that some cats like to be cuddled. Shiro is not one of them. When we pick him up, he whines. It doesn’t stop us, but he’s not a big fan of it. We often say if only he realized we’re not a threat and we just want to show our love for Him.

We often think the love of God is something comfortable. It’s not always. Sometimes it’s painful. Love doesn’t always mean something that feels good. Sometimes love can seem intrusive to us. Sometimes love can stretch us in ways e don’t want. Anyone who thinks having a loving God is all sunshine and roses doesn’t have a clue. God will not always take us where we want to go.

So why do we have Shiro? Love. That’s all it is. We wanted someone in our household who would bring an extra little bit of joy to us. Shiro isn’t a theologian, but he sure has taught a lot about theology. Those who are parents of biological or adopted children I think can understand this even more.

We’re thankful for this little guy in our lives. If you would like to know more about him, we care about him so much we actually made a Facebook page for him. We’re thankful for the special kitty in our lives and we hope you will be thankful for the special ones in your life, pets or not.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

  • Mark

    Your relationship with Shiro sounds like the medieval Pangur Ban and his master.

    • Not familiar with that.

      • Mark

        Pangur Ban was a white cat belonging to an anonymous Irish monk sometime about the ninth century. The monk wrote a humorous poem comparing their occupations. The idea of you working tirelessly on your theological pursuits while accompanied by the faithful Shiro reminded me of them. 🙂

        “I and Pangur Bán, my cat
        ‘Tis a like task we are at;
        Hunting mice is his delight
        Hunting words I sit all night.

        Better far than praise of men
        ‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
        Pangur bears me no ill will,
        He too plies his simple skill.

        ‘Tis a merry thing to see
        At our tasks how glad are we,
        When at home we sit and find
        Entertainment to our mind.

        Oftentimes a mouse will stray
        In the hero Pangur’s way:
        Oftentimes my keen thought set
        Takes a meaning in its net.

        ‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
        Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
        ‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
        All my little wisdom try.

        When a mouse darts from its den,
        O how glad is Pangur then!
        O what gladness do I prove
        When I solve the doubts I love!

        So in peace our tasks we ply,
        Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
        In our arts we find our bliss,
        I have mine and he has his.

        Practice every day has made
        Pangur perfect in his trade;
        I get wisdom day and night
        Turning darkness into light.”

        Translated by Robin Flower