Catastasis, a Cat Story

When we got home on Sunday, Kitty Beckett was missing. The kids and I travelled to California for five days. Sometime while we were gone, our cat must have slipped out the dog door in search of us. Or an incredible journey. Or to solve a murder mystery. She was, after all, nicknamed for television’s Kate Beckett on Castle.

We waited to see if Kitty Beckett would show up at the backdoor Sunday night. Two raccoons came by, but no Kitty. Unless she had donned a raccoon mask for Halloween. The kids went to bed praying that she’d be safe and come home soon.

Monday. Still no cat, but Ryan, Paige and Katie continued to pray. I tried to tell them that she might have gotten lost and wandered  into someone’s backyard and another family adopted her. I gently hinted that we had a lot of coyotes and other animals in the woods around the area. Paige wanted to know why I wasn’t praying for our kitty. So I prayed.

But honestly, I struggle with prayer that way. When I was growing up, my grandma would pray to find her misplaced car keys or glasses. I know people who pray for good weather, for sports teams and for the big stuff: healing, restored health and other major miracles.

I pray less for outcomes and circumstances and more for my attitude to handle whatever comes my way. I pray for patience when things or people drive me insane; or wisdom to see things in a different light. But even as I say these prayers, I wonder if I somehow limit God with my skepticism and notions of a God who will not/cannot tamper with free will and the natural laws of the universe.

Big thoughts over a little cat. So the kids went to bed, and I remembered to check my phone message before I went to sleep. I missed a call from my neighbor across the street: Did I have a cat who might have climbed up her tree? 

Their dog had chased a wandering cat up their towering cedar on Friday. They thought it had climbed down, but when they were outside this evening, it was meowing pitifully from the top branches.

Well, Lord, help my unbelief! This morning I announced to the children that our kitty was in the tree of our neighbor’s house. They ran across the street looking for it, but we couldn’t see anything up that high. I sent them to school promising I’d find a way to get the cat down.

The internet is amazing, and with a quick search I found Cat in a Tree Rescue ( Mike-the-tree-climber, promised to be at my neighbor’s house within the hour. For a mere $150, Mike would climb to the very top branches of the tree, lovingly cradle Kitty Beckett into a rope sack, and bring her down to me. Whoever coined the phrase, “No such thing as a free lunch” could add, “No such thing as a free cat” either.

But what do you do? Leave your cat in a tree to die? And what price do you place on having your children’s prayers answered?!

It was much more exhilarating than the Chilean Miners rescue though it didn’t garner the media attention of Fox and CNN. I grabbed my camera for exclusive photos of the cat rescue.

When Mike landed on the ground, he handed me his rope bag, and I crooned to Kitty Beckett. He warned me not to open the bag or, in her panic, she could shoot back up the tree. We carried the rope bag back to my house to welcome her home, but just before we got to the garage, she squirmed and wiggled and forced her head through the opening at the top.

It wasn’t Kitty. I mean, it was a kitty, but she wasn’t my kitty. She was white and short-haired, and she didn’t look like the kind of feline who would appreciate Nathan Fillion. My kitty is gray and long-haired and loves murder comedies.

I had just written a check for $150 to rescue someone else’s cat. And my kids would be crushed. And I now had a cat in a rope bag–what would I do with it? Mike said, “This has never happened to me before.”

I wanted to tell him that I routinely hire men to rescue neighborhood cats from trees, but I was late–late for staff devotions and prayer at work. We had a quick conversation about a “lost cat” flyer on the mailboxes, and Mike offered to call the telephone number for me. A neighbor was at my house in 10 minutes to claim her cat. She was overjoyed, and she kindly replaced my check for Mike-the-tree-climber.

Someone’s prayers were answered, but not my kids’ prayers this time. At least, not with the answer they sought, but they’ll be okay. They are talking about keeping a kitten from Megan’s pregnant cat at her Dad’s house. They’re also hoping that maybe Kitty Beckett will still return. Their resilience amazes me. So does their faith. Also their unending enthusiasm for adding pets to our home.

I want to shield them from praying for specific outcomes that might end up disappointing them. They pray with all kinds of petitions and expectations…and remain undaunted when their requests go unfulfilled. I envy their expectant optimism and acknowledge that so much of the power of prayer is a great big mystery to me.

The good news is, I love a good mystery.

ca-tas-ta-sis: [noun]. the third part of an ancient drama in which the action is heightened for the catastrophe.


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