One of the greatest gifts God gave man, is the gift of choice.
You have the right to choose to do right or wrong.
But whatever you choose to do you must deal with the outcome.
Therefore, choose to do right.
I recently read the book James Herriot’s Cat Stories and one of the first stories in it was about choice. If you don’t know who James Herriot was he was a vet who worked in England. PBS has a series about his adventures entitled All Creatures Great and Small, from his book by the same name. Anyway, late one evening a young girl drops off a cat she found in the alley. The cat is emaciated and has multiple deep wounds and gashes and is near death. She brought him by the vet’s so he could be euthanized.
The vet reluctantly agreed to relieve ‘him of his misery’ but his assistant encouraged the doctor to try and save him. After some discussion, and aided by the cat’s purring, the vet chose to try and save his life. It took several hours to clean the poor animal and stitch up his wounds. By this time the vet’s wife came downstairs (they lived in the flat above the office) to see what was going on. The vet was not hopeful the cat would live through the night but the wife agreed to spoon feed him back to health. It took some time but the cat, now named Oscar, came back to life and full of ‘vim and vigor’.
Oscar stayed with them quite some time and one day another knock came on the door and it was Oscar’s original owner plus his 2 young sons. It seemed they had moved some 30 miles away and Tiger/Oscar had gotten lost and tried to find his way back home. The vet and his wife said a tearful goodbye to Oscar but were gladdened that the boys had their beloved pet back.
So I related that story to address the quote for today. That vet had a choice – to try to save the cat or put it out of its misery. That is a tough choice to make and he had to live with the consequences.
Have you ever been heartbroken by a lost pet? I have. I had a cat named Norman and I loved as much as I loved any other cat. One day I came home from work and he wasn’t there waiting for me on the doorstep like he always was. I searched for days and never found him. That was 20 years ago. I still wonder what happened to him and whenever I think about him I am saddened by his loss. I’ve lost cats before – to old age or disease. And while I miss them it isn’t the same thing as not knowing what happened. Someone, somewhere knows what happened to him (he was a people cat and knew no strangers).
My point is this – because the vet chose to try and save Oscar he was rewarded with unconditional love, heartbreak and appreciation. It was hard for him and his wife to give Oscar back to his original keepers; but he saved that family, and especially the 2 young boys, ongoing heartbreak over their missing pet.
We all make choices in our daily lives – some large, most small. The next time you or I have to make a choice, take a beat, think about it for a moment and consider, can you live with the consequences?
Hear our humble prayer, O God,
For our friends the animals,
Especially for animals who are
Suffering; for any that are
Hunted or lost or deserted or
Frightened or hungry; for all
That must be put to death. We
Entreat for them all Thy mercy
And pity, and for those who
Deal with them we ask a heart
Of compassion and gentle hands
And kindly words. Make us,
Ourselves, to be true friends to
Animals and so to share the
Blessings of the merciful.
Finally, I come to the end of my journey through motherly love, both human and Divine. It is fitting that the last two quotes would be about animals. That is where I can express my own maternal instincts. My cats are my babies—not in the sense that I treat them like human children by giving them birthday parties or dressing them up in clothes (seriously, do you really think your dog or cat enjoys that?)—but in the sense that I am fiercely protective of them, won’t let them outside without being on a leash, cuddle with them, talk to them (which includes fussing at them when they are bad), and loving on them.
The wonderful cats who share my home are as dependent on me as I on them. I provide them with food, shelter, clean litter and love. They provide me with unconditional love and affection – but only when it suits them, they are cats after all. I don’t mind them being indifferent to me at times. There are days where I am not able to even handle their needs or affection – which is why I could never be a dog caretaker. Dogs are way too needy and I abhor neediness, whether human or animal. Doesn’t say much for me does it? But I am who I am and I know some of my limitations.
The cats in my life are my joy and my pain. I accept that as a fact of life and as a gift from God. I care for them, I love them and will grieve for them when they move on. And when that time comes, if God sends another lost cat my way, I will love and care for that one as well.