My half-Siamese cat, (Nancy) Sinatra, is pictured. 

A Prayer for My Anxious Cat

By Rachel E. Watson

Don’t be afraid, my darling feline
with velvet-tipped toes
and downy-thick fur.

It’s only the coming of the dawn,
and it happens every day
to the anxious and content.

So take your racing heart
and still it in the warmth
and safety of my arms.

I will hold you tightly
until the grip of fear releases;
you’ll find me a kindly protector.

And then when the sun has risen
I will draw the bay window shades
and you may sleep at ease in the sun.

O Ruler among cat pyramids,
O, saucy Sultan of Siam (Thailand),
Let peace take o’er your heart,
Let joy inhabit your steps,
Let safety claim your trust,
Let love be the balm you seek.

Copyright © Rachel E. Watson 2015.

About the poem and my cat

I wrote this poem on Monday, after a period of holding Sinatra and soothing her because something about the coming of morning seems to make her anxious. She yowls. Continuously. And paces. And gets a worried look on her face. It's not food-related, because before Stage Yowl, I already fed her. And it's not that she wants us to wake up and play with her, because, many times, if I get up, she'll completely ignore me and keep yowling.

But I don't care. Sinatra is so special to me. She is an instrument of God's love and mercy in my life.

I try not to fret too much that litter-box training has never been fully successful, that she wakes me up so early every day, and that she hisses at strangers and doesn't like physical affection, even from me, her favorite person, most of the time.

Why don't these things ultimately cause me and my husband to find her a new home? Because all of these things don't outweigh what she means to me. In fact, they make it so much more touching when she seeks me out of her own free will — crawls into bed with me and makes a little nest right next to my legs, purring like an engine — or, like this morning, shares the hours of pre-dawn insomnia with me, making the time more bearable simply by her quiet, curious, seeking nearness.

She is one of life's biggest blessings as I try to do the work of being a balanced person.

Thank you, Jesus, Spirit, Father, for your good gifts, your beautiful creation, your love for little ones like Sinatra.

May I never forget how important we both are to you. 

Read more of my poems and poetry-related blog thought spinnings here.
I've got a writing hangover today. What is a writing hangover, you ask?

It's that thing when you worked too long the previous day (or couple days, in my case), and you are too exhausty to function. Headachey, eye-puffy, body-drained Rachel sits at her laptop and tries to write. But nope.



I was going to write a post about how to cure a writing hangover, if I could muster the ability to write it, but when I started googling definitions, I discovered a blogger in the UK had already written an excellent, funny post on the topic.

Here it is: "Writing Hangover Symptom Checker," by Blondewritemore.

Enjoy!
The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Grand Rapids.

The Evangelical Choral Society is a severely underrated musical gemster in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and you, the public, can turn that around. You'll love this choir. It's filled with heart and technical skill. As they belt out the classics, the group will twist up your music-loving guts and knock your (probably) Argyle socks off.

On Saturday, my dear husband, precious sister and I were blessed to attend the group's semi-annual public performance. This spring's concert was held at the Cathedral of St. Andrew — the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese headquarters.

Besides being an obscenely lovely building that's about to celebrate its 140th birthday, the cathedral, as noted by music director and diocese organist Nick Palmer, who welcomed the audience on Saturday, is perfectly acoustically designed to radically majestify the beauty of choral music. That's a paraphrase.

The church often hosts community concerts, not just sacred music but also opera and whatknot, which I think is a wonderful outreach. Brava, St. Andrew's! You brothers and sisters got it. And when you got it, flaunt it.

Randall Wm. Burghart addresses the audience between songs.

Saturday's concert, led by the group's esteemed conductor and music director, Randall Wm. "Randy" Burghart, featured three works in German, one in Latin and three in English, and two outstanding sopranos: Kristen Burghart (Randy's awesome classically trained singer-chef-cool person-wife, whose voice you local folks might recognize from Opera GR performances), and Mary Lehr Dean, whom I hadn't seen perform with the group before, but found to be an impressive talent whose high notes could probably break glass. But not the glass at St. Andrew's, because it was recently reinforced.

Here is Dean singing lead soprano on the song, "God So Loved the World," by Bob Chilcott:



Wow. Chills. (Bee tee dubs, I don't admit this very often, but I cried during Dean's performance. Coddle me, mommet. Oy vey.)

The program was about evenly split between classic and modern works: Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn and Georg Schumann, balanced with Chilcott, David Cherwien and a spiritual by the late Moses Hogan.

For me, the wild card was the Latin, Holy-Thursday masterwork by Marc Antonio Ingegnieri, "Ecce Vidimus Eum," a sixteenth-century liturgical piece I hadn't heard before. I loved it. Here it is:



I'm glad Burghart invited his longtime musical collaborator Bethany Schutter, an alto singer and Hudsonville High School voice instructor, to conduct one of the songs, the spiritual by Moses Hogan, "Deep River."

This is a favorite piece for me and my fellow pianist sister, Marissa, ever since we learned to play an arrangement of it years and years ago on keys. We were delighted to hear it performed a capella. The keyboard is no match for the agonizing so-good-it-hurts bazinga of a spiritual.



The closing performance was an 11-minute, beautiful, nuanced and expertly honed rendition of Felix Mendelssohn's "Hear My Prayer," the evening's only piece with organ accompaniment, as performed by St. Andrew's Nick Palmer. His pipe organ rocks the friggin' casbah.

"Hear My Prayer" was soprano Kristen Burghart's chance to shine, and she stepped up and delivered the goods, as she invariably does.

My sister and I were particularly tickled by her expressive countenance during her solo sections. Besides her overall pleasant demeanor, it seemed from where we were sitting that she mostly kept her eyes fixed on her husband's face, not his conducting gestures or her songbook or the crowd. The eye contact, or what appeared to us was eye contact, is a sweet habit of theirs I've noticed at other ECS concerts. I imagine it communicates their years of musical togetherness and mutual affection. (Or is that my mushy heart showing?)

Watch to see if you can catch her not-so-covert glances in this stunning video of the finale, "Hear My Prayer."

Regarding the caliber of the show as a whole, I foresee the cathedral taking up a collection for roof repairs, because the music raised the rafters off their hinges and slammed them back down again. Mylanta!



Like what you heard?

The Evangelical Choral Society, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, performs free concerts twice yearly: once in the spring and again in the fall. The fall 2015 concert will be held the Sunday before Thanksgiving at First (Park) Congregational Church, 10 E. Park Place NE in downtown Grand Rapids.

As an added bonus, at that concert, ECS will be performing with a full orchestra. (Squee!) To learn more, visit www.ecs-gr.org, or "Like" their Facebook page.

Note: I am, as you might have noticed from my inexcusably familiar remarks, acquainted with the Burgharts, owing to our mutual Cornerstone University ties. I was not, however, in any way paid or goaded into writing this review. So when you donate your moolah on the ECS website, and please do, you need not fret that the money will be mismanaged on dubious propaganda campaigns that involve hiring this cornball reviewer. I can't however, promise not to review their music again. Because they are my kryptonite. Peace out, homies.