In a desperate middle-of-the-night battle with a feral tom cat, our Siamese, Pearl, lost all four of her Mother's Day kittens, less than a week old. She wandered around the porch listlessly, calling for them and searching every corner over and over again. Her belly swelled up hard and hot with milk for babies that were gone forever.
They crumpled like wet tissue paper when I told them the kittens had been killed. It was almost more than I could bear, to hurt them with the truth so. But hurt we must when the circle of life closes the gap at the end.
And on goes the cycle. Two days later, Pearl was still listless and now running a fever from the sugary milk that was now serving as breeding ground for bacteria as it lay stagnant. Pearl's twin sister Shelly had been looking like she was in labor for weeks, her belly so full it was square and hard, as if she had swallowed a small box. Last night, she finally went into labor in earnest, and an hour later 6 kittens were cuddled up to her belly. One was born dead, as is often the case. I squirreled two away during her labor and brought them to Pearl.
Pearl sniffed the wet newborns and began to clean them up and care for them. A few minutes later, she settled down to nurse them. I imagine it may have been just so for humans not long ago...I've read about women throughout history offering their babes to the mourning mother who lost her own, so that by a few minutes breastfeeding, the physical pain brought on by the separation might be soothed. Pearl's face, which had been taught from pain and worry, relaxed as those two fresh kittens nursed long into the night.
We offer comfort from our abundance when someone else's arms are empty. As we suffer and search for meaning, we are building up supplies for the day when we walk with another down this familiar path of pain. We will have wisdom to offer them when we see them treading water through their trial.
If we diligently seek His face through our own pain, we will be able to paint that Holy face with the words offered to other struggling saints.