Monday, August 06, 2007

Prodigal Cat and a Theological Dilemma

We had a very anxious day yesterday as our big cat, Elizabeth went missing. We always bring her in at night because of the coyotes and bobcats that love our suburb near the mountains. But Saturday night, we could not find her to bring her in. We went to bed concerned, but not frantic. This has happened a few times before and she has always been at the patio door first thing in the morning--irritated and wondering where her breakfast is.

But Sunday morning, she was not there. We walked all around the neighborhood calling and searching, but no kitty. We went to church hoping that she would be home when we returned, but no. All afternoon long, we'd look hopefully out the window hoping to see her in one of her favorite spots, but no. She had never stayed gone that long and we feared the worst. Our town in notorious for cats that disappear around the same time an urban coyote is spotted.

At bedtime, my son was in tears--already grieving the loss of the pet he has known nearly all his life. I suggested we pray. So we did. "God, if Elizabeth is still alive, please help her find her way home to us."

Twenty mintues later, as I was reading in bed myself, I thought I heard a cat outside. I threw on my robe and opened the patio door-----and there was Elizabeth! She was meowing her head off and loping toward the house. I woke our boy up and put her in his bed. He was overjoyed. He hugged me hard and said, "Our prayer worked!"

At some point in the not too distant future, he will discover that prayers are not usually that immediately efficacious, are very often not answered on precisely the terms you've set out, and frequently appear not to be answered at all. Do I bring that up now? Or let it ride?


Presbyterian Gal said...

Oh, let it ride, I say. Let his young faith have a growth spurt from a positive experience. The next time something comes up you can temper it then with how you preface it.

I put it this way: When it seems like the answer is no, that's only because there's a 'yes' down the road that we don't see yet.

the reverend mommy said...

I'm so glad the kitty showed up. I say let it ride. The experience will come with time.

I got hit with the "Mama, I don't think I believe in God today" in the car the other day. Then she said -- "that's just for today. I think I'll believe again tomorrow...."

My brain was going "Eeeeeeeeeek" the whole time....

Presbyterian Gal said...

Oh yeah, P.S.
Yay that Elizabeth showed up!! Has she been "telling" you of her experience. I'll wager she has.

JWD said...

This past weekend we were cat sitting for some friends in Coyote Land as well. Their cat decided we could not be trusted and ran away for about twelve hours. We were frantic!

At one point, my dear husband suggested, "Should we pray?" but I was upset and angry at ourselves for letting the cat get away. And I couldn't figure out my theology on praying for a lost cat. I shook my head no.

A couple minutes later, I saw my nine-year-old son with his eyes closed, praying.

I feel like I lost my chance, in that moment, to model being a person of faith--the way you did with your son.

I still don't know quite what to do with that, but was really struck by the similarity of our predicament.

zorra said...

Let it ride. He'll find that out soon enough.

Many years ago, some friends were about a four hours' drive from home when the car died and would go no further. The consensus was, they would have to stay where they were overnight and get it to a garage the next day...until their five-year-old son prayed, "God, please heal our car," and of course it cranked right up and they got home fine....

Annie said...

Isn't the combination of doubt and hope pretty much a part of the package? And do we really have it all figured out?

Rev Kim said...

I also say let it ride. 'Cause we should all have those experiences that we can remember where God answered a prayer immediately and in precisely the way we wanted.

Glad your kitty returned. I remember crying, searching, and praying all through the night for one of my kitties whom I couldn't find - we also had coyotes. When I finally saw him I wanted to both hug him and yell at him for staying out so long!

ellbee said...

let it ride, Mama! Some day, when a prayer doesn't work the same way and despair attempts to creep in, you can hang on (together) to the times that God was so amazingly good to do it exactly as we'd hoped.

What a lovely story! And I don't even like cats!

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

Hey...the pray was answered! Praise God! Let it ride...the world is a sucky enough place with faith.