She was such a tiny thing — this feral mama cat who suddenly moved to my deck. Black, with a couple of white spots on her face. A tail that reminded me of a possum. Hard cartilage. Not inviting to touch.
She didn’t even look pregnant. Just hungry. Desperate. Why else would she dare to climb the steps and stare at me?
I know the drill. Never feed a feral cat. They’ll keep coming back and bring the entire clan. They’ll never be domesticated. Take them to the shelter. Pay for the spaying. Decrease the local litters.
Yet somehow, this unwanted and unlovely creature touched my heart. I could not trap her. She was too fast. I could not hurt her. She needed me.
We began with a tiny bit of food which she greedily accepted. Her reflexes tuned to mine. One tiny move on my part, and she was gone.
Over the weeks, she gradually let me inch closer. But not too close. If I reached out my hand, she disappeared. Came back two days later. Starving.
One morning, the summer wind turned cool. I decided to have my morning quiet time on the deck. Journal, Bible, pen. And the feral cat in a corner.
I watched her circle around the deck, then a bit closer on the next round. A couple of figure eights around one of the potted flowers. Another trip around. Closer. Ever closer.
As I tried to ignore her, yet watch her, she eyed me. Took another dance around the deck. I returned to my study.
Then I felt a soft brush against my leg, a tiny whisper of acceptance. Without looking, I reached down. She brushed against my arm. Allowed me to pet her. Once. Twice.
She disappeared for several days, then returned a bit thinner. We continued our sometimes-on-sometimes off dance. A few days of petting. Another day of skittering away.
But I knew she had finally accepted me when she brought her three babies. She dared to trust me with her family.
Beautiful kittens. Two black and whites. One fully black. The black one immediately let me pet him. The other two repeated their mother’s elusive dance.
They grew up and eventually left. But Mama cat stayed. Greeted me every morning. Begged for food.
One day I reached to pet her, and she shied away. As if we had never been friends. As if we were starting over again.
After all this time and all this food, you still don’t trust me?
I felt the rejection. Huffed inside and shut the door. Then shook my head as the allegory formed its meaning.
How many times has God answered my prayers, gifted me with a miracle, sent an encouragement? Multiple times during my life’s journey.
How many times has he drawn near as I danced closer, waited until I trusted him with the next transition in life, the next question of “What do I do?” Thousands of times.
How many times have I brought my child to the Divine and asked for blessings? Received the same. Gushed my gratitude.
Yet when another hard place threatens, when the latest questions shadow me with doubt, when I wonder again Does this deity really love me — I shy away. Cry awhile and disappear from what he longs to give me.
He returns each day. Offers me the bread of life. Lays an occasional treat in my bowl of need. And once again proves he is trustworthy.
My doubt disappoints me and hurts his gigantic heart. My faith takes a hit.
Yet the next day, there he is again. Reaching out for me. Asking me to trust him for another day, another transition. Being his hope-filled self.
Scripture reminds us that nature is a constant mirror of God’s grace. We see him in the changing of the leaves from verdant green to bronze. We sense him in the blessed rain shower after a season of drought. We honor him when animals gift us with unconditional love.
And even when we struggle to accept what is right before us, he continues to reach out. To provide. To be with us — his feral children.
Some days, hope seems to hide. Yet if we listen carefully, tune our souls to the intensity of nature, we can hear his whisper, “Yes, I still love you.”
©2021 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For more stories of hope, check out Hope Shines. Available on Amazon and in Large Print.