Part 2 of the Calico Cat.
This week as the weather and season began to change in Gaza, the weather or ‘atmosphere’ changed for the Calico Cat and me, too. She had been comfortable offering her affections to whom she chose but, very afraid of being approached without her invitation. I set the limits of how much I was willing to accept by my response to her.
How long I allowed her inside the flat, how much time I would just sit to pet her and how many more kittens (and future husbands) I wanted my cat to add to the property were limits I set. I based these limits more on what I didn’t want (baddish) than what I did want. I did want to keep her but I didn’t want more kittens.
The property owner had just given Abu Naji (caretaker of the property) the big job of removing the cats from the property—with the exception of my cat. But the Calico Cat had heard the cries of terror from the other cats as they were caged against their will and put in the Tok Tok for a forced ‘relocation program’. In the animal kingdom, as well as among humans, individual panic can quickly lead to mass hysteria and these sounds and images must have left a permanent memory.
The day started out clear following a cleansing and refreshing rain the night before. That morning I ‘invited’ the Calico Cat into the safety of my lap as I sat in the Tok Tok. The purpose of transporting her to the veterinarian was for an injection to prevent unwanted kittens. Yeah, that’s right, birth control for cats because in Gaza they believe surgical neutering is dangerous for the cat’s health. I could sense even my lap (in the Tok Tok) didn’t feel like a safe place for her. After many attempts, I could see she was going to have to be put in the cage.
As we traveled together in the back of the Tok Tok, no amount of soothing words could relax her. She was safe but, she didn’t know it. She was going to return to the home she knew for an entire day of being pampered and cared for, but she didn’t know it. Because of her fear of the unknown and her inability to release control, my Calico Cat escaped from a place of safety and ran like the wind into a place of danger and uncertainty. How many times have I done the same thing?
Facing the unfamiliar is always challenging. It challenges our ability to release control and accept the RISK that life and love will always present. The animal instinct doesn’t know how to trust in God who has control of all things. But as a species of instinct AND reasoning, we are expected to choose. We can choose to fight our rescuer in panic when drowning or give up the battle and cooperate. We can choose to love again after losing so many to death. We can choose to expose ourselves to criticism and rejection until love actually does win. We can choose to let go of the nostalgia of “The Good Old Days” to live again in a new day, a new place, a new way.
I realize it is only because of God’s faithfulness and love that I have not outrun his protection and provision for me. Tonight as missiles “change the weather” of Israel and Gaza, as their sound and impact shake homes and lives, I sit with my family in Rafah knowing it is all between God’s hands and I am safe there.