Apr 7, 2010

Pangur Ban

I often have little conversations in my head – remember, I’m a novelist. This morning as I was brushing my teeth it went like this:

“I had such a great cat.”

“What made it great?”


“I loved it.”

Oh. She had her little quirks, and she wasn’t snuggly with anyone but me. And thinking about it, I guess she wasn’t all that more unique than any other cat. (Except, she never did get the being-born-in-the-wild out of her, and she did occasionally take week-long vacations from the house, and…well, I wouldn’t want to bore anyone.) But, when that phrase came, “I loved it,” I suddenly felt a tiny bit of the agape that the Lord God has for us, as ones He created.

Within the relationship of belonging (as the creation belongs to the creator) there is something that makes the belongee exceedingly precious and beloved. I wonder if this is part of how love develops in arranged marriages. It is definitely part of parental love toward helpless, red, and wrinkly little babies when they are born. They are yours, and that makes them more important than any other creature in the world.

I was thinking about Pangur (she was lost into the wilds of Chicago about 5 ½ years ago) because of the cat she was named after: Pangur Ban. Years ago I read this poem, written by an 8th century Irish monk and scribe. Being a writer myself, it fit perfectly:

I & Pangur Ban my cat
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

'Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit & find
Entertainment to our mind.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye,
Full & fierce & sharp & sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

So in peace our task we ply
Pangur Ban my cat & I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine & he has his.

Last night I discovered that an animated movie has been made about this monk, which is supposedly very good and which is not playing in my vicinity (The Secret of Kells). Which is too bad, as tomorrow is my birthday and I should have very much liked to see it…a movie with Pangur Ban and his monk. (On the movie’s website you can hear a little song about Pangur Ban.)

I’ve always thought I might name her Pangur Ban when I am able to have a cat again. In the meantime, I will just consider this: that it was my love for the first Pangur that made her so special. And that whether or not I am ever satisfied with the words I scribe, it is the love of the Lord God for me that makes me a delight.