The cat that needed someone to get in her face

With the Bean family’s vacation just around the corner, the Preacher and I agreed to care for their sweet, though somewhat reclusive, female cat, Smokey, in their absence. Usually we check in at their house, because Grace (our own feline) has never tolerated other cats. That’s slowly changing, thanks to the friendly tom next door.

“Let’s try to keep Smokey at our house this time,” I suggested to Amanda. She agreed.

We began with short visits. The gray cat slipped like a shadow from her crate, eyes wide. “Are her pupils always dilated?” I asked.

“A dog attacked her before we got her. She doesn’t see well.”

Smokey explored; timid, curious. Grace sulked, growled, then vanished into his basement lair. But he didn’t start a squabble, so after a few more visits, we tried a sleepover.

Sad mews roused me around three a.m. – Smokey. But where? Grabbing my phone, I switched it to flashlight mode and found her cringing in a corner. I tried to pick her up, but she growled and hissed, so I left her alone.

A few threats, but no kitty-violence, punctuated the next day. By ten at night, Grace had retired to his basement cushion. Smokey accepted my cuddle and ear rub, then, as I typed at the kitchen table, she curled up under a chair near me. This may just work, I thought – prematurely, in retrospect.

Minutes later, I stood up, startling Smokey. She ejected from under the chair with the speed and squeal of a screaming firecracker. I watched, astonished, as skidding sideways and yowling, she rounded the corner of the kitchen and disappeared down the hall, where her fit escalated into spine-tingling, full-on screams.

Unnerved, I called my daughter. “Come for Smokey. She’s traumatized.” Me too, I almost added. Amanda came, but Smokey, still yowling and dashing, refused capture.

It took several minutes to corner her. When we did, Amanda brought her face almost to Smokey’s whiskers (not a move I would have made). Finally recognizing the one who loved her best, the little creature calmed down and slipped into her crate.

Given her partial blindness, Smokey’s time with us likely outstretched her capability to adjust. Had Amanda not risked facial lacerations and gotten right into her face, I suspect that kitty may still be skidding and screaming.

That little cat mirrors so many of us. Crusty old geezers, children longing for love; frightened, angry youth; seemingly indifferent middle-aged adults adrift in a sea of unfulfilled dreams and spiritually sight-challenged people, silently screaming for rescue and internal peace. We manage our fears and uncertainties the best we can – but sometimes something snaps and what’s inside busts out.

That’s when we need someone to get in our faces. A friend willing to risk rejection who will remind us who we are and whose we are. Someone to lead us home. Someone who looks, acts and loves like Jesus Christ, the one who loves us best.

Followers of Jesus, that’s us. Prepare to love.

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