Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Return of the Prodigal Cat

It was just a lucky glance that I caught Gnomie out of the corner of my eye three days ago. I had already given Solomon and Sheba their dinner, but the sight of Gnomie sent me out to bring fresh robes and roast the fatted calf, or the farm cat equivalent of that. It was lucky that I was there because apparently Sheba has been watching Meerkat Manor and felt the need to tell Gnomie that she had strayed from the group. A quick jab to the head and a little snarling was almost enough to send Gnomie off again, but I persisted and so she stayed.

I explained to Sheba that, like the prodigal's older brother, she had always had my affection and all the cat food she could eat. The lesson, I fear, was lost on her, but then the prodigal son is a difficult lesson for us all.

The three cats swirled one into each other again as in the old days-head tail tail head tail tangling and untangling and sometimes twining my legs into the midst. The pieces of dry cat food rattled into the empty griddle pan used as their feeding dish, and Gnomie was all business for a bite or two, but then bobbing her head anxiously to look up at me and then sidewise to Sheba. Solomon did not seem to factor into her worries at all.

I went back into the house and let the cats sort themselves out. Shortly after that I saw Gnomie in the hedge in front of the house with Solomon behind her. Perhaps she has kittens stashed in the hedge. As secretive as she is, I will see them only by invitation.

The next night Gnomie came to the window to tell me she was ready for dinner. I leapt up and all three cats followed me to the dairy maid's cottage. Tonight I must confess I lingered downstairs in the hopes of seeing her in the window. I was delighted to leave the evening news behind when Gnomie showed up.

I struggled to understand the parable of the prodigal son. It did seem reasonable for the elder brother to be resentful of his young brother's apparent rewards for bad behavior. A marvelous book by Henri Nouwen about the prodigal son and Gnomie helped me understand it as the joy of finding that which has been lost.


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