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A Meditation for the Feast of Sts.Adam and Eve

by Rev. Heath R. Curtis

I fumbled for my keys with my right hand as I held my collar in my left. It was my vicarage year and I had just returned home from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church where I had performed the liturgy on Christmas Eve. My wife was in the hospital having just given birth to our firstborn, a daughter, earlier that day. I was home to feed the cat and change clothes before dashing off to be with mother and child again.

I retrieved the keys and opened the door. I walked a few steps in the dark to the lamp by the bay window and switched it on.Turning around, I saw our cat Basil sitting the middle of the living room staring at me. He is a fine cat—big and sleek, black on top and over his eyes, but with a white face, underbelly, and legs. His nose is large and rose-tinted with a black spot. His eyes, which at this moment were locked onto mine, are a brilliant yellowgreen with the right being noticeably more yellow than the left.

No doubt Basil had been watching me go through my entrance ritual. Usually after a long absence he meets us at the door with a meow, thus serving notice that it is time to eat. So I was a little surprised that he was not at the door this time and doubly so when I found him sitting in the middle of the living room looking at me with what can only be described as intent.

“Do sit down,” said the cat. I was looking him square in the eyes when he said this, and I saw his white mouth open to reveal his long teeth and miraculously expressive, bright red tongue.

“Pardon?” said I, fully expecting Basil to say, “Excuse me, I meant ‘meow,’” or something of that sort.

“Do sit down, if you please.”

At this point, I took the cat’s advice. I chose the chair nearest to me and gently let myself into it—all the while keeping my eyes on my suddenly loquacious cat.

“I suppose,” said Basil, blinking in his slow feline fashion, “that you, a man of the Church, know what today is.”

“Christmas Eve, of course.”

“No, no. That is today in tomorrow’s right. What is today in its own right?” said Basil, now with a twitch in his tail.

“I’m afraid I don’t know, Basil.”

“It is the Feast of Adam and Eve,” he said with a tone (his voice was much deeper that I would have imagined) of finality that implied that all should be clear to me now.

“Oh?” was all I could come up with after a two or three second pause.

“Yes. And do you know who they were?”

“Of course. Our first parents—I’m not that dull.”

“Good.Then you can surmise why I breach this topic with you tonight.”

At this, I must confess, I was befuddled. A strange shock accompanies the discovery that your cat can talk. But the shock is greatly intensified when you find that he has something say, and that moreover he seems to have something to teach. As I pondered these things in my baffled state, the pause must have lengthened so as to betray my ignorance for Basil continued.

“Your first parents, indeed, and our first King and Queen. But you must know what they did.”

“They fell.”

“Fall! Pretty word! One may trip on a stone and fall. They jumped from a precipice.”

Basil’s tail was now moving through the air at an undignified pace. But his voice was steady and his gaze fixed on mine. Even in agitation Basil remained the cat I knew him to be.

“I see your point, Basil,” I said, not sure that I did but feeling compelled to say something.

“They brought pain and death into the world.” Another pause followed this statement—a silence evidently meant to be filled by me.

“That is true, but we share in their guilt. ‘Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt.’ ‘One common sin infects us all,’” I said, guessing at the cat’s meaning.

“You! You are guilty of the fall! Do not bring us into it.”

“Who are ‘us’?”

“We who groan as in childbirth and suffer because of your trespass.”

Again the cat had spoken with authority, not like the other cats I had known. And again he waited for my response with a dead-set gaze. But I had no reply. I was thinking of nature, red in tooth and claw. And I thought for a good long time all the while looking into those yellow-green eyes with the barest sliver of a window into that animal soul. At length I did respond.

“I’m sorry.”

“Today,” said the cat, ignoring my apology, “is the Feast of Adam and Eve.” He had placed a great emphasis on the first word and now sat in seeming expectation, a quizzical black tail wrapped tightly around white forepaws. He was waiting patiently for it to dawn on me. After a time, he repeated his words with the same accent. Another pause.

“And tomorrow,” said I in tardy but sincerely felt triumph, “is Christmas!”

“And what have you named your daughter born on this day?”

“Anastasia—Resurrection! The newborn King, the new Adam, didn’t fall, but rose again on the third day! And he’s coming back to restore nature.”

Basil let my last syllable hang in the air for the smallest fraction of a moment, then turned with the grace and speed native to his race and, with a trot, made his way to his food dish and let out that baleful meow that meant he was hungry.

Rev. Heath R. Curtis is the husband of Rebekah, the father of Anastasia and Silas, an assistant pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Burr Ridge, IL, and a PhD student in the New Testament and Early Chrisian Literature Dept. of the University of Chicago.