Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grace to Gracie

I've talked about our cat, Gracie. I use the term "our" rather loosely. When we moved into the house before this one, we found her living in the garage. After a while we realized she was eating our food. We tried to welcome her into the house, but she would have none of it. Super friendly to the church-goers, but always cranky at us.

We even rescued "her" from the pound once, only to discover it wasn't her we were rescuing, and she'd been lazing away her day sleeping under the porch as usual while we'd run all over town trying to get her back.

Last winter, we had a cold snap with temperatures below freezing for several days, which is slightly abnormal for the area we live in. (Yes, I can hear you hearty winter folk laughing. I'm laughing with you. I grew up at Elevation: 1 Mile, with snow nine months of the year.)

During the cold snap, we found Gracie huddled in a pile of dirty laundry in our utility room. Again, we attempted to welcome her into the home, all proper-like, but the dirty laundry was all the closer she would venture to true warmth.

After that cold snap, Gracie slept on a dilapidated, old, down pillow I kept on the laundry room floor for her, even in warm weather. She continued to be ever-so-friendly to the rest of creation and all the church folk who landed in her territory, who never did a thing for her except pat her head, but she hissed at us and gave us the evil eye, while eating our food and sleeping on our pillow.

A neighbor dewormed her at one point and asked if she could keep her. We said yes. Then the neighbor moved and didn't take her.

Then we moved.

So we decided to take her with us. God forbid she should have to return to the life of a stray, snacking on gourmet mice for her dinner instead of dry, sawdusty Ocean Fresh Friskies.

She was the last thing we packed, along with our old cat, Jack, who's been with me longer than I've been married. Into a couple of moving boxes they went. We taped them down and cut a couple of air holes, and we even wrote the contents of each box on its exterior. "Jack." "Gracie." Then we drove them the twenty minutes to our new home.

Poor Gracie was beside herself. How dare we.

But we determined to kill her with kindness, so we showed her where the food was, showed her the litter box, showed her the special pillow we brought along just for her (which she will have nothing to do with), and spoke in our kindest, high-pitched kitty voices.

The morning after we arrived, she actually climbed up into my lap and needled at my shirt with her claws for a good ten minutes, marking her territory. I thought that was a good sign.

And then,

in true Gracie form,

after everything we've done for that little varmint,

she bit Jeff's hand.

Yes, the hand that feeds her.

Not only did she bite Jeff's hand, but she punctured his skin, deeply.

Jeff went online and found that the more a cat puncture wound bleeds, the better it will heal. We kept an eye on it for the evening, watching the red marks turn slowly black as no blood whatsoever oozed from them.

The next morning, Memorial Day, the back of Jeff's hand was an inch taller than it should have been, and a nasty shade of purple.

Oh, bother.

And its being Memorial Day and all, Urgent Care was closed, and so were all the doctor's offices. Even the county was closed, where Jeff could have gone for a tetanus shot.

We watched the swelling visibly increase for half an hour or so, and about the time Jeff explained to me that if he kept his hand above his heart it only hurt a little but when he dropped it down it throbbed excruciatingly, we decided it would be best for all concerned if he got it treated.

So he hopped in his truck, and off to the ER he went. Sheesh. Happy Memorial Day.

At the ER, the doctor gave Jeff two shots of antibiotics right off the bat, because, he said, oral antibiotics would not respond quickly enough to get Jeff out of danger. Out of danger?! What?!

Then he wrote Jeff a prescription for Augmentin, an antibiotic our pharmacist friend says is pretty dang potent, and sent him on his merry way. After taking his antibiotics faithfully for four days, the swelling is almost gone. But not quite.

So... let's recap. Gracie loves everyone in the world and hates us. We feed her, we provide a warm place for her to sleep, we try to embrace her as a family member. She runs away, she glares at us, she hisses at us, and finally, she poisons my husband, intending, I am sure, to take his life.

Can I continue to extend grace to Gracie, even after this?

Pondering this murderous thought (my friend suggested we turn Gracie into tacos), I happened upon the following verse in my daily Bible reading: "A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal..." (Proverbs 12:10a).

Hmph.

Yeah, but...

What about the animal having regard for the life of his master? Come on!

But you and I are no different, are we? We had no regard for the life of our Master. He was despised and rejected. By us. By you and me.

How many times have we loved the world while hissing at God?

How many times have we taken what we want of grace without giving ourselves totally to Jesus Christ?

How many times have we been drawn to our Abba Father, only to show Him our fangs and attempt to bite the palm of His hand, in which we should be gently resting?

And how many times has our loving Abba responded by loving us, and forgiving us, and longing to set us free from our self-made prisons to dwell forever in the light of His glorious grace?