Broken Tiger

There is yet another strange cat hanging out on our farm.

Tiger.

A gray and black tiger-striped tom who we’ve seen time to time over four or more years.

As long as I’ve known him he has never let me touch him.

I remember we got some Frontline on him for the flees, but only because he walked into a Hav-a-heart trap I had put out for racoons.

Way back I remember how the backs of his crumpled ears had bleeding wounds on them from all his scratching.

He did not do well in the wild.

A few days ago he showed up again after years,

all skin and bones,

one paw curled under and left unused,

begging for attention,

begging any human who looks at him for love and affection.

My heart breaks for this old cat.

This old, feral, cat.

How cold and lonely a life he has lived,

and now,

on death’s door,

this is where he comes.

Did he know,

all along,

that he would be loved?

Why,

now,

does he ask for what he hated before?

He is not just here for the food.

He asks to be stroked,

enjoys it when he is petted,

begs for more when we stop.

It is the same cat.

I recognize those ears,

healed now,

but still crumpled in that funny way.

Why?

And why not sooner?

There are mysteries bound up in that cat that I have longed to have answered since well before I met him.

My mother thinks he will have to be put down,

that he may be sick with things that can’t be cured.

Did he come here to die,

and not to be healed?

Oh, Lord, why us?

Why does this poor old cat come to us now,

and why not before?

I know too many souls like this cat.

No,

I have been like this cat.

I have reached the broken, crumbling depths,

and reached the place where the lie of pride has no more hold.

I have come home from the wilds,

sick and on the edge of death,

begging for a little corner to sleep on,

and a little food before I die.

Yet I was healed,

and thus I would have it so for every other that I know.

Even one old cat.

I am a farmer,

and I know the price of an animal,

but my heart cries out at the brokenness of this world,

and I long for the day when there will be no more death.
Jesu, veni!

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