I'm sure there are others who would disagree.
But, as I so often defend: I care for cats, but neither inclusively nor exclusively. In other words, I don't only care for cats. And I don't care for all cats. There have been several I couldn't stand, actually.
And I only have one under my roof with me.
It just so happens that cats are the ones who tend to show up on your doorstep. And if they have a sweet disposition or have a look on their face like "What am I doing out here on my own? Please take me in!" - then I cave.
Two to three months ago, I had a sweet one show up outside my balcony who looked like she could use a meal, so I came in and got a handful of cat food and gently tossed it down to her. This often ends up scaring most of them away, but after having stepped back, she came back up to check it out and then ate her little heart out.
After that, it became our routine. If I saw her coming down the sidewalk (which was every couple days or so), I would gently call her over, she would come just far enough to check things out, I would toss some down and she would then procede to eat.
Then, several weeks ago, I tossed a couple handfuls down to her and as she started to dig in, she started shaking her head. Uh, oh... Ants.
Sure enough. From the nights that I was a little too generous, the excess food on the ground had attracted ants. And it seemed that I had lured her in just to get eaten up in ants.
Broke my heart. It saddened me to watch her, knowing she was so hungy (and around this same time, had actually just delivered a litter), taking a bite then shaking her head. Trying to get in there again and take another bite, then shaking her head. Finally, to walk away after only managing a few bites.
I felt so bad. I wanted to tell her 'That was not from me. I had only wanted to care for you.'
I didn't see her again after that - until this afternoon. Nearly a month later.
I had actually begun to think that something had either happened to her or perhaps (and hopefully) someone had kindly taken her in to care for her.
But, she is still out there. On her own. Looking for food. Fending for herself. But, I didn't see her outside my balcony. She was looking elsewhere to be fed.
And it's not for my lack of looking out for her. I have stepped out onto that balcony countless times over these last weeks, looking for her. Hoping to see her. Worrying about her. Longing to care for her once again.
But, now I can't help but think that she hasn't been back, by choice. Because she was hurt last time. That trust broken. Even though she had been provided for time and time again leading up to the ants; watched over and spoken tenderly over... She was willing to just walk away over one painful moment.
And tonight, as I looked out there once again, with no sign of her in sight, I thought -
How many times have I been the same way?
I have had a Provider, tending to my needs, speaking gently over me, reassuring me, caring for me in an unpredictable world. And yet I'm prone to walk away from the very One who cares for me, due to some uncomfortable moments.
And all the while, He keeps looking... scanning the horizon... waiting expectantly to care for me once again.