At dawn, the first living organism I lock eyes with is, yes, a black cat.
We are both early risers. It glares at me and I glare back. It seems to know what time I open our gate for my morning walk; it positions itself just a yard away. Then it blinks, crosses my path, and retreats when it hears my purposeful, determined march.
The next walking day, the black cat is there again, as though it has been assigned to keep watch.
In the town where I grew up, people were afraid of a black cat. As a little girl I would hear adults looking upon this creature as a symbol of bad luck or misfortune, especially if it crosses a person’s path.
But my grandmother, the sage in my growing-up years, would pooh-pooh such idea, “Hogwash! God created all kinds of cats—and one of these species is colored black.”
She was, as usual, right. How could a black cat negate the joy of seeing the sunrise, of feeling the sweat on my back and the breeze that dries it off, and of having the energy to walk for an hour and be active all my hours after that?
How could a black cat diminish the grace that wafts around me with every recorded step on my pedometer, with every breath I take (those last five words I borrowed from a song I swooned over as an adolescent in love with love)?
I’ve been taking my early morning walks for the last thirteen years—this number is another bad omen in our town, but that’s another story—and in all those years, a black cat has mostly been the opening act of my new day.
As cats only have a life span of 12-15 years, the one that crossed my path this morning may be a daughter/son of the very first one who ever greeted me 13 years ago.
Tomorrow, when the black cat meets me just off our gate, it will be another blessed day—just as all my days have been while I can still walk jauntily on the land where the Lord placed me.
“My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:6 (KJV)