My sweetheart has always wanted a “lap cat”. We’ve had several cats over the years but never was one as “lappable” as the current “princess” of the house, Noelle Starr. There is actually an interesting relationship between the two. At times Noelle’s insistence on Linda’s attention drives my sweetheart to distraction and even to harsh words between the two. In fairness, it’s not always Noelle’s fault since she has come to understand that with just a little pestering, Linda will become the automatic treat dispenser … and Noelle LOVES treats. All of that sets the stage for what happened this morning.
I was lying in bed, not yet awake, dreaming of living in a nursing home of all things! Suddenly, just after 6AM, the darkness was pierced by the stabbing glare of the ceiling light. The first words I heard were not, “Good morning sweetheart, how did you sleep?”. Instead they were , “Alright! I wondered why the furnace was running most of the night. The patio door is open and I can’t find Noelle.”
I SO wanted to request that she turn off the light, and then roll over and sleep for a little more. After all, I was interested to find out what was hiding under the plate cover on my pureed breakfast tray that the dietitian had just placed in front of me. But … I remained in the real world and got up, certain that Noelle was outside in the dark and not knowing what in the world I could do about it. Noelle LOVES to be outdoors. Winter has been torture for her. Now that the weather is tempering she is constantly at the back door begging to be put outside on her 50′ leash. There was no way that she would be in the house if the door were open.
Linda busied herself with morning chores but I could tell that she was tense and worried. At one point she looked out the back door and upon spotting a large rabbit in the middle dark pre-dawn yard she asked it “Have you seen Noelle?” (she confessed this conversation later; and thankfully she reported that the conversation was all one-sided). I tried to assure Linda, who was growing increasingly, but silently distraught, by telling her that Noelle would surely come home we just had to wait.
Knowing that if Noelle were truly lost, never to return, it would be terrible. Lamentations 1.2 came to mind: “Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her.” And then there was Matthew 2.18 that rose in my thinking, “A voice is heard in Dubuque, weeping and great mourning, Linda weeping for her kitty and refusing to be comforted, because she is no more.” (Jeske paraphrase). So I did the only sensible thing. I prayed, “Lord, I know that this is a very minor thing in the big scope of things but I’d like to ask anyway … please help Noelle find her way back safely.”
Ten minutes later, while putting out the mail, Linda looked behind the bushes in front of the house and spotted the varmint. Using cajoling words, she stooped as Noelle took her sweet time making her way into Linda’s arms. I’m sure there were tears of relief and joy in her eyes as she cuddled her kitty and said, “Praise the Lord!” And, silently I said, “Thank you Lord.”
After getting some treats, Noelle made her way to the basement where she curled up contentedly on “her couch” and has been sleeping there ever since.
How did the door get open? How long was she out? We don’t know the answers to those questions and probably never will. What we do know is that God was gracious in even this little detail of our lives.
Watching Linda cuddle the newly returned, prodigal Noelle reminded me of iconic painting of the Savior holding in his arms the little lamb, presumably rescued. I was reminded that even as there was rejoicing in the Jeske household over a returned cat, so too there is rejoicing in the Father’s house over the return of one soul who responds to His loving invitation to come to Him.