My son's kitten, Loki, is a black and white bundle of energy. He zips about the house like a small tornado. My son recently moved in with a friend who has two large hunting dogs and so it was decided that it was best for Loki to go live with my son's girlfriend who has four cats. It is obvious though that Loki knows he belongs to my son or as every cat owner knows, Loki knows my son belongs to him. People don't own cats, cats own people.
Loki doesnt' seem to realize that he is the runt of the bunch. He fearlessly jumps into the faces of the older, much larger cats and challenges them to wrestling matches. Sometimes they will tire of this and knock him down but Loki doesn't let that discourage him. He bounces right back up, ready to have another go at it and the older cats end up seeking solace elsewhere while Loki dances his little victory dance.
I really should say that three of the cats do this because there is one cat that responds to Loki differently. This cat's name is Al and he is the oldest one of the bunch. In fact, Al is quite elderly and stands out in contrast to the vivacious Loki.
Al patiently lies there while Loki dances around him. Al endures Loki's playful pouncing. He doesn't growl or hiss at him and he doesn't try to knock Loki down. He simply lets Loki be what he is, a playful little kitten.
Al does more than that however. As strange as it may seem, this elderly cat will at times even mother the little guy. This past week, Loki caught a cold and was not feeling very well. In the above picture, you can see what Al did. When I saw this picture today, I just had to smile to see Loki snuggled up against Al and Al lying in a protective manner around Loki.
I got to thinking about how impatient those who are more "mature" can become with the youth in the Church. We don't like their restless energy and enthusiasm. It seems like they always want to upset the boat. Besides, we reason, they won't listen to us anyways and they certainly do not want us around. This shows how ignorant we are. In reality, while young people are seeking independence from their parents, the vast majority of them crave the attention of more matrue adults. They really do.
Rather than push away our youth, we need to accept them for who they are and not try to change them into a someone thirty or forty years older. The Church needs their enthusiasm and their energy just like it needs our wisdom and experience. We need to take the time to develop relationships with and care for our youth or we will look up one day and discover they have found the relationship and care they need elsewhere.
This is precious! And the message ... yep.
"Rather than push away our youth, we need to accept them for who they are and not try to change them into a someone thirty or forty years older. The Church needs their enthusiasm and their energy just like it needs our wisdom and experience. We need to take the time to develop relationships with and care for our youth or we will look up one day and discover they have found the relationship and care they need elsewhere."
You know, I feel very thankful to be part of a church where there is a good age balance. I believe this is because the younger people really are appreciated for what they can bring, and so they stay. Not to mention, a person cannot learn if (s)he is not permitted to do. On that point, methinks Al is a good teacher... a little like someone else around here