The Gideon I read about in Judges did not own a cat. If he did, when he laid out his fleece seeking a sign from the Lord–wet fleece when the ground was dry and dry fleece when the ground was wet with dew–he would have found his cat messing with the scientific process. Because instead of a wet or dry fleece, he would have found a cat, fast asleep on the fleece (Judges 6:36-40).
At least if his cat were anything like mine.
If I lay out a fleece anything (blanket, jacket, robe) before the Lord (or,, more likely, simply forget to put one away), I find my cat curled up on it–dead to the world. I would hate to ask God to make it wet to give me some sign as it might disrupt her beauty rest.
But I think God does speak to me, believe it or not, through my two cats rather than fleeces. One kitty lives outside; one inside. They look a lot alike, but these kitties have very different lives. And those lives give me much food for thought.
Life on the outside
Our outside cat, a tabby named Tiger Lily, wants attention, but she is somewhat abrasive when she gets it. She enjoys the petting but randomly begins to bite and scratch and become irritated, making the pet-ee slightly less inclined to reach out and touch her again. (Of course, she is 16 people years old, so in cat terms she’s beyond senior citizen age, so senility could be part of the current package.)
Despite her age, she still catches squirrels and birds and the occasional snake or rat. (I did mention she lives outside, right?) She brings them to the sliding glass door intact, meowing strangely (and loudly) until we notice, and then when we come to the glass, horrified, she begins devouring it. Even though she clearly has fight in her, she lets the raccoons make off with her food–and her food bowl. She doesn’t growl or hiss or otherwise prevent them from dirtying up the bowls or stealing her nutrition, and so we refuse to feed her when it is dark.
Tiger Lily stays close to home. We hear from our neighbor that when we leave, she’ll wait for our return in the driveway and then run behind the house and appear nonchalant, as if she barely noticed we were gone. She scratches persistently on the glass door and stares a hole through it when she wants food, and we usually give in. She’s come to expect her daily spoonful of salmon and turns her nose up if we offer her just dry food in the afternoon.
My take-aways from Tiger Lily
And so from our outside cat, I learn many life lessons, such as:
- If I want affection, I should make sure I’m being affectionate rather than abrasive. Purring is preferable.
- But sometimes I need to offer affection even when (or especially if) someone is abrasive (and that leather gloves help make that possible when the abrasive one has teeth and claws).
- Sometimes words are overrated and, clearly, a variation of crying can get me what I want. 🙂
- What I consider an achievement may not be received as joyously by others–and that some behaviors are private affairs (namely, eating off the heads of various wildlife).
- If I am not willing to fight to protect what’s mine, I will lose it–and lose the opportunity to have more.
- I can hold out for what I really want (which isn’t canned salmon, by the way).
Life on the inside
Our inside cat, Tori, wants attention when she wants it–and makes sure she gets it. She has no qualms about parading her furry self in front of the computer screen, across the keyboard, or behind the chair with paws batting my pony tail toward her so she can grab it with her mouth. If she wants to sleep with me, she makes herself at home–whether she’s trying to perch herself on top of my flabby stomach or thighs or wedging herself up against my body so that I can’t change position in the night for fear of disturbing her. (Who owns who? I am pathetic.)
She treats us all differently. I am the only one who can hold her like a baby. When my daughter lived here, she was the only one whose lap became a bed. Now that Laura doesn’t, all of our laps are Tori’s. She knows I am the one who generally feeds her, and she cozies up to me, but she bites and scratches my husband–and keeps coming back for more tail-pulling and rough handling, like a woman drawn to a bad man. She plays with Adam and feels free to coax food from him. She attacks my son Ben’s feet, and senses when he is about to go to bed and then hides in his room so she can jingle her collar just as he drifts off to sleep–and then race around the room to elude capture.
She stalks and “attacks” any wildlife–or wandering dog or her “opponent,” Tiger Lily–through the sliding glass door, freaking out all animals except Tiger Lily, who just ignores her. Tori can run like a crazed demon through the house seemingly randomly, and she often enters a room as if she were seeing it for the first time. She has mastered the art of opening doors and sometimes helps herself to water from our dispenser.
She sleeps as if she is dead to the world, but the quiet opening of a can of tuna or salmon or the rustling of a package of Boar’s Head lunch meat brings her running. She doesn’t mind it if she has to help herself. She leisurely stretches upward until her paws reach the countertop, and she feels around for the package to pull. I have to pay attention, or she will make off with the expensive meat.
My take-aways from Tori
From Tori, I learn not only that I have to be vigilant with our food supplies, but I also learn many life lessons. For instance:
- It’s OK to let my needs be known.
- I can seek attention and comfort, even if it means someone else may sacrifice to meet my needs; I really hate to ask, but sometimes it blesses both me and the other person when I do.
- Like Tori, I can be discerning and treat people in different ways that may specifically minister to them (but it likely is best if I don’t hide in their bedrooms and jingle bells to mess with their sleep).
- When I’m feeling on the attack, it is better (and safer) to attack an inanimate object like a door rather than a living organism, which I might later regret. (Of course, if I launch my body against a glass door, I might also regret that.)
- I also learn that it’s OK to act crazy, even when others don’t understand.
- And it’s delightful to take a fresh look at rooms and people and situations; it reminds me that God’s mercies are new every morning and mine should be too (Lam. 3:22-23).
- I need to open doors rather than waiting for an opening and take the time to serve myself some refreshment.
- I certainly need to sleep as if dead to the world so I can spring to life at the sound of the morning alarm.
For our family, these cats are a delight, adding to the best of times and bringing some joy and comfort during the worst of times. And some days, they are a sermon walking through my life in padded paws. The tale of these two kitties has certainly written some life lessons on my heart.