As someone who is devoted to people living in the margins and a cat lover (particularly fluffy orange tabbies!), I picked up a book this summer with great interest. It details part of formerly homeless addict James Bowen’s journey toward wholeness.

James made his living as a busker – a street musician – on the streets of London. Every day was a bit of a struggle to make ends meet.

He usually played to crowds in Covent Garden that barely noticed him, only to come home to his small apartment, scrape together something for dinner and do it all again the next day.

Bob and James buskingOne day in the hallway of his apartment he noticed a handsome orange tabby cat who looked like he could use a little TLC. James figured the cat belonged to a neighbor so he left him alone.

After seeing the cat again and again, looking unhealthier and more in need, James decided to show him some kindness. He nursed the cat – who he named Bob – back to health and began to think of him as his responsibility.

Bob quickly became a cure to James’ loneliness and gave him a purpose outside of himself. But James was that for Bob too. Shortly after he regained his health, Bob began to follow James out in the morning and sit in his guitar case while he entertained passersby.

Almost immediately, James wasn’t invisible anymore. Tourists and locals wanted to take a photo and find out more about their sweet bond. And, donations began to flow in; enough to sustain them both most days.

James and Bob became local celebrities in London. So, when his book A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life was published it remained on the bestseller list in England for about a year.

James and Bob standingThe transition that took place in his life and in Bob’s is a testimony to the wonderful power of belonging and connection in reclaiming a life. The book is a stirring reminder that we all need a connection to a source of unconditional love.

In James’ case it started with Bob: in our Army that source is God and his unending grace.

A Street Cat Named Bob is on bookstore shelves now in the US and a follow up book called The World According to Bob is also available.

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