Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)
I know, Paul wasn’t thinking about adorable cat videos when he exhorted the Philippians to think about pleasing, praiseworthy things. But if what he meant in general was that they should occupy themselves with the good and not get soul-poisoned by crapioca – like, oh, I don’t know, cynical politics, Hollywood scandals, and the grotesque perversions of the vastly wealthy – then surely adorable cat videos fit the bill.
Paul knew that what you occupy yourself with shapes you. Spend enough time in the world’s moral junkyards, then junky you will be. But dwell on the good and you’ll find yourself being good, doing good, allied with the good, loving the good. And loving God, the source of all good.
Which brings me back to adorable cat videos. Or cute kid pics. Or puppies. Or baby bunnies. Or anything that makes you grin, guffaw, or sigh. Anything that makes you feel life’s goodness even for a nanosecond. Don’t you dare judge yourself for spending time with the antics, the sweetness, the goofy joy. It’s not evasion. It’s not distraction. It’s not procrastination.
Well, maybe it is. But in this hard-edged age when too many people find pleasure in being cruel, to let your spirit be shaped, your mind filled, and your heart warmed by silly things is also nothing short of an act of faith. The pleasure you feel is akin to prayer, your relief is praise, your laughter is resistance, and the sweetness that invades you is God’s own.
Did you see the one with the bright orange kitty, God? Wasn’t it adorable? You are, too.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.