Winter Cats and Gideon

We are transitioning from summer cat to winter cat around here. Summer cats run wild and stop in only to eat, leaving me to wonder if they are alive. They rarely come when called, hide in the drainage ditch when storms come, wake me during the night when battling other summer cats with fierce declarations about territory.  They bring in treasures like moths, frogs, even a bat this year but forget to tell me, leaving the creatures as reassurance of their skills, reminding me I have no reason to worry about my summer cats. Unfortunate finds of baby birds and slower adult ones, moles and the occasional mouse have become so commonplace Plum no longer is sad, has bought into my “circle of life, just a part of nature” routine and merely hollers, “Gran, I found another one!”  Summer cats are not my favorite.

Winter cats run about the house at night, chasing each other and imaginary (I hope) creatures. They lay on anything warm, my lap and my laptop the preferred spots. Sluggish throughout the day, their skills go into hibernation, they get a bit fat. They sometimes look out windows, waiting for spring, dreaming of freedom. Mostly they sleep. I like winter cats, I always know where they are, I don’t check fur for scratches, I never step on frog bits. Winter cats share their warmth and their hair, a trade off on cold snowy days. They create marginal interruptions when I am writing, most often just a scoot to the left or a nudge to the right as one of them chooses the space between my arms and the keyboard as the best resting spot. Still, I enjoy the company.

Winter cats are returning, easing into our home on a more regular basis. Our beasts are still too young to understand the cats were here first, the cats believe they have dominance. I have worried about this transition for a while, wondering how beasts who insist on chasing everything that moves would accept winter cats. I worry about things like this, fret over the small things because there are too many big things that just squeeze the breath right out of me. Focusing on the cat situation has allowed me to for a time to ignore our loss of income, our broken relationship with our daughter, our lack of health care. I researched ways to integrate cats and dogs, I sought wisdom from others. I bought a squirt bottle to discourage overzealous beasts and treats to encourage them when they listened. I have never been great at dog training, mostly I taught them that the command “leave it” means a cat is close by, run, chase, fun is at hand. Still we are transitioning.

Yet for all my efforts and concern, the cats and beasts are working it out by themselves. They actually need very little intervention by me. Winter cats want in, beasts get tired eventually. The world keeps going. All of my fretting and hand-wringing created nothing but distraction for me.  Just as these small issues seem to resolve themselves, the big ones come and go and appear smaller in hindsight, counted as blessings with distance and perspective. I can see clearly how the huge upheavals in my life have created space for more, have prepared me for the greatness that was coming. Trusting that truth each time in the midst has been the seed of faith God has asked me to cultivate. Believing in Him, knowing that He loves me, ME, has not been a one-step process, rather a long transition. I am reminded of Gideon, that great leader who was visited by an angel, had a conversation WITH and angel and yet still needed confirmation from God. He tested God, asked for reassurance even AFTER the first test. God was patient, He had plans for His child and knew that much would be asked of him. God accepted Gideon’s need for proof, for hard evidence. He didn’t ask him to go only by faith, believing in the face of hard times, rising up against armies of those who worshiped idols without the affirmation of God. Gideon talked with an angel and still he needed more. I know God is patient with my testing, with my doubt, with my worries. I know also that in this really hard time, He is delighting in my faith.

I don’t know what is going to happen, what our future holds. The hurdles of the past have been my testing, God delivered. I feel a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and somedays I wonder if I am crazy to not be consumed with anxiety. Then I realize this is what faith feels like, a deep soul knowing. We are in a really big transition, one we didn’t anticipate. We know where we were but not where we are going. That usually freaks me out, to my very core. I like control, I like to drive, I like to KNOW. Yet I am okay this time, I just feel the goodness coming. I can feel it like child anticipating Christmas morning, getting cranky with the waiting but knowing the elves are watching so best behavior is required. I am still being good, I know God has greatness in store for us. I am waiting. This is so new it surprises me, surely delights God. Still old habits remain, I am freed up to brood about the little things, like whether my eyebrows will ever grow back in or why Chef must rearrange my cabinets. God has the big stuff and I am trusting Him. As for my winter cats, they are in and the beasts are adjusting. My home is full, my lap is rarely empty and my heart is joyful.

Of course, we haven’t put up any Christmas trees yet.

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