Sunday, March 23, 2014

The upper room

Evenings in the cozy warm abode I call home have been experiencing a new animal addition as of late. Her name is Truffles.
Noelle, my oldest niece, adopted her beloved dachshund about two years ago. Truffles is just what you'd imagine when you think "weiner dog." She is chocolate brown, a little plump and has a comical running style that is a mix of waddle and trot. Truffles is deeply attached to Noelle and takes her role of protector dog very seriously. She barks at passerbys and chases young boys. Anyone who might possibly come near one of her family members is fair game to be bombarded with a barrage of woofs.
Truffles is also Pippy's best friend. The two are cousins by….marriage? I'm not sure of the proper terminology for a dog's family tree. Nevertheless, Pippy and Truffles are best buds. Whenever Truffles comes over the two dogs exhaust themselves by running around the house, chasing after toys and each other, jumping up and down off of couches and wrestling on Pippy's dog bed (which she graciously shares with her BFF). But more than any other activity, Truffles favorite pastime at my house is to pester the eldest of animals under our roof, Patches, the big fat cat.
In her own home Truffles doesn't have a cat to sniff and investigate so she must feed all of  her curiosities when she as at my house where she has the mother of all cats to put her nose all over. Truffles relishes this opportunity.
Case in point, Thursday night. From the moment Truffles came barreling through the door she was all over the cat, literally. She was sniggering(?) her from head to toe. Maybe Patches had a new and tantalizing smell that was a feast for Truffles' nose. I can't explain the extreme curiosity, all I know is that Patches wasn't too thrilled. In fact, she seemed downright peeved. She just sat there and meowed. I wanted to tell her to go run up the stairs, find a cozy bed and go to sleep away from the intruding nose of this silly dog. But Patches is getting old and senile. Maybe she forgot that she has the ability to escape the bombardment. Or maybe she is sick of having to hide. Either way, she stayed put and let the sniff-fest continue as she aired her dissatisfaction with incessant meowing.
As the night wore on I was in and out of the room where the animal activity was on full display. I had gone to clean my room, do some laundry and write. When I came back down the stairs and rounded the corner into the kitchen I saw the most unusual sight. Patches was sitting on the small kids activity table that takes a prominent spot in my home's kitchen. On the floor stood Pippy and Truffles, looking up at the oversized feline relaxing in sniff-free peace. The cat had won. The dogs were perplexed.
How Patches managed to lift her oversized body up off the ground and onto the top of a table I will never know. All I can say is, where there's a will there's a way. Patches certainly had the will. It sounded something like this, "Get me away from this annoying dog." Somehow she came up with a way to remedy the situation.
For the rest of the evening Patches laid comfortably atop that table. Not one of us had the heart shoo her off. That poor cat had put up with enough for one evening. We all agreed to let her stay out of reach of the rambunctious dogs and simply sanitize the table later.
What Patches needed at that moment was a break from the chaos of life on the floor. She had put up with the antics of her dog companions long enough and she simply needed to get away. The table provided her an escape and a measure of serenity. Patches may be old and in desperate need of a diet, but she is far wiser than I had suspected.
Sometimes, like Patches, we all need to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of life. We may not have a dachshund sniffing us, but there may be plenty of other unwanted intruders that are bombarding our rest and causing our heart to lose its peace.
Watching Patches, I was reminded of the upper room referred to in Acts chapter one. After a day's journey back from the city the apostles and a number of women, including Jesus' mother, went into the upper room of the home they were staying. They separated themselves from the world so they could communicate with God in peace. In the upper room, away from the comings and goings of the world below, "They all joined together constantly in prayer…" (v. 14).
The apostles needed to be away from the noise and the demands of the world so that they could tune into the will of God. Their prayers were for guidance and direction in the matter of who among them should be nominated as another apostle. They needed to step away from distraction so they could hear the commands of God, have peace about their decision and walk in obedience. 
They needed to jump up on a table and get away from all the chaos of the world below. They needed to pull a Patches. 
There are times that I need to find refuge in my own upper room, my own kid's activity table. To hear God clearly might require that I shut off the noise of the radio and TV and temporary retreat from the people around me so that all of my attentions are entirely focused on God. It is in my upper room that He can speak to me directly and I can know that I am hearing Him and not the whisperings of the voice sitting at the next table or the background buzz of the news reports playing on repeat. I want to hear the direction of the Lord, not the distraction of the world. So sometimes I need to step away from the chaos that surrounds me so that I can take hold of the peace of God.
That evening, the one where Patches was in desperate need of an upper room, she remained on that table top for at least an hour, maybe even two. She didn't come down until Truffles had left the house and was well out of the driveway. Then Patches hoped off the table and laid back down on the rug. She had found the refuge she so desired and now she could come back down off of her perch and remain in peace.
When I am losing my peace and in desperate need of a rest I hope I put into practice the wisdom displayed by my pet cat. Go to an upper room; seek the company of God; find serenity in communing with the Holy Spirit. In His presence I can find a resting place for my head and a peaceful calm for my heart. In my upper room, prayerfully coming before God, I will claim the truth of Isaiah 32:18 that says, "My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."

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