Evening Visitor

by Bryan Berghoef

“Meow, meow, me-ooow,” came the sad call from outside my window. A farm cat had wandered over the neighboring field and was now circling my backyard office shed. It was a forlorn call, and he was right underneath the window where I was holding a pre-marital counseling session with a young couple.


“Better shut the window,” I said. “I think he’s lonely and attracted to our voices.”

The window was shut and the cat wandered off. It was a warm spring evening so we eventually cracked the window open again to enjoy the breeze. We were discussing the changes that occur if and when a couple decides to have a child. Someone said, “There’ll be new sounds in the house: crying, cooing, laughing, calls of ‘Whose turn is it to change the diaper?’ and so forth.”

Tuning in to the voices wandering out into the May evening, the stray cat returned. “Meow!”

He was lonely, and the sound of our voices seemed a comfort as he was a quarter-mile from his usual haunt.

This conversation on relationships, commitment, responsibility and uncertainty remained punctuated by sad cries from our new feline friend for the rest of the evening. It was a reminder that all of us are, at some level, seeking comfort and companionship, in a world that can often feel frightening, unfamiliar, and lonely.

The session ended, and I returned to the shed for a moment, alone. I offered a prayer of gratitude for the relationships in my life—friendships, my spouse and children, parishioners, colleagues and more. And in that prayer I was reminded that, even when I am—or simply feel—alone, the presence of each of these people is with me, undergirded by the supportive presence of the Beloved.

Rose Mary Dougherty expressed it this way: “True spiritual community is an expression of a contemplative heart. It expands beyond itself to embrace all humanity.” In other words, by cultivating my own spiritual life, I open myself to connection with others in a deeper way—even people I don’t know and have never met.

In a time when humanity feels increasingly disconnected, and we separate ourselves out of fear and hostility, the cultivation of such a contemplative heart seems more important than ever. For we never know when a lonely stranger will cross our path, calling outside our window—and instead of locking the doors, perhaps we’ll open them, and our hearts as well.

May 05, 2019 by Bryan Berghoef 1 Comment
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5 years ago

good article, but all I could focus on was the cat. did you let it in? did you offer it some milk? give it a cuddle? I mean…poor cat!!!!


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