Kitty made her third and highest trip into the black gum tree outside our dining room window this week. When I went out to feed her Sunday morning, I heard her faint meowing, but I couldn’t see her, hidden as she was in the thick leaves.
I interrupted David’s shower with the news. “Kitty is in distress, and I can’t find her.”
By the time he made it outside, I had located our little adventurer, and we spent the next hour or so craning our necks and giving her advice as if we expected her to understand what we were saying.
“Kitty, just back down the tree the same way you went up.”
“Come on! Jump down, and we’ll catch you.”
She wasn’t having any of it, though. She was nestled into a crook next to the tree trunk where she felt secure, and she wasn’t inclined to venture far from her nest.
David didn’t quite trust her aim or our ability to position the laundry basket to catch her if she fell, so he had brought an old blanket from the shed to use as a kind of fireman’s net. He also brought out folding chairs, I brought out coffee, and we sat in the shade, listening to Kitty’s pitiful cries and discussing our options.
During the quiet moments, I began thinking like a writer and wondering what life applications I could draw from the situation. I thought of the verse in Psalm 91 that says, if you trust in God, His angels will “bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone.” I wondered if that applied to silly kittens in trees. I also thought about the many times I have found myself in a tight spot, frozen in place, afraid to let go and take a leap of faith.
When I realized we were going to be late for Sunday school, we decided I would go on to church while David stayed on Kitty watch. Everyone asked where he was, and I’m sure he will take a lot of kidding about his role a feline protector. Still, when he takes on the responsibility for someone, regardless of how small, he takes his commitment seriously.
I found it a little hard to concentrate on the service as I wondered what was going on at home. I breathed a few extra prayers for safety, hoping David wouldn’t decide to climb up after her and end up in a mixed pile of husband and Kitty parts at the bottom of the tree.
My prayers were answered, and the situation had not changed much when I arrived back home. Kitty’s wails sounded a bit more desperate, and David was standing under the tree rather than sitting in the shade, but other than that, neither of them was bent or broken – yet. Kitty was getting restless, though, and she had managed to work her way down a few feet, sometimes by stepping on a lower branch and sometimes by falling and grabbing.
For the next few minutes, we circled the tree as she continued to climb and slip closer to the ground. Finally, when she was about level with the roof, she began making her way along a branch toward the house.
“I’m going up on the roof,” said David. “I think I can get her to jump to me.”
I continued my intermittent prayers while trying to maintain my position under the tree with the blanket draped over my outstretched arms. She was visible enough that I was pretty sure I could break her fall if she should come down; I wasn’t as confident about my ability to catch David.
He made it up the ladder and onto the roof with no problem. He began calling her name, and Kitty began inching toward him. She was over the roof, but she was still reluctant to let go of the branch. David patiently continued to call her, and when she was close enough, he reached out and pried her little paws away from the limb.
She was fine as soon as her feet hit the ground. She drank a little milk and purred as we expressed our relief by scratching her ears and dangling sticks for her to play with. I continued to muse about the experience, and I thought about stories in the Bible when God called and people were reluctant to let go. Moses was reluctant to let go of his simple life as a shepherd when God called him to go back to Egypt; Peter couldn’t let go of his fear when Jesus called him to walk on the water; and the rich young ruler was certainly reluctant to let go of his wealth to follow an itinerant preacher. In my own life, I’ve often been reluctant to let go of the status quo, even when the call is to something better. Hopefully, the next time I’m called to “let go and let God,” He won’t have to pry my fingers off the branches.
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