Monday, February 20, 2012

Strays








Our neighborhood is full of stray cats.

They're everywhere, and it's not very often that I want to try and rescue any of them.

I love cats, and I feel compassion for them, but we have a cat...and a body can't just go taking in every stray cat he or she finds on the street...

Not that you can't try.

My family did.

Growing up, we always had a lot of pets. We legitimately adopted a couple, but we also took in strays. We weren't very well off, though, so we couldn't afford to take Bob Barker's advice to help control the pet population...and well, sometimes it really did get out of control. I remember when I was about 13, we had (at one time), 10 dogs, 14 cats, 2 rabbits, a salamander, a gerbil, a coop full of chickens and a tank full of fish. My dad used to like to say that in some countries, we'd be considered ranchers...unfortunately, I think in our country, we were just considered weird.

Today, though, as I was walking home for lunch, I saw a little calico kitten, no more than a couple of years old, scampering across the lawn of the building where I work and into the bushes across the street from my home. I lingered by the bushes, slowly held out one hand and softly kissed at this cute
 kitten (that's a habit we've developed as cat owners - we kiss at cute things. I once caught my wife kissing at someone's toddler...we also call one another mommy and daddy, but that's for another blog). The little calico, didn't immediately run away. It's not old enough to completely distrust humans. It stayed near, and if I had been holding a can of tuna, I think it would have come to me.

Something I've always respected about my mother is her heart for strays. She had compassion for strays of all kinds, dogs, cats, birds, boys and girls. My brothers and I tended to befriend boys from broken homes...and my mother always extended a loving arm around them. She invited them for dinner, family outings, and for sleepovers at our house (that sounds weird, right? my mother inviting boys for sleepovers...but you know what I mean). Our family wasn't perfect, and we weren't rich, but we loved one another. We really loved one another, and we readily extended that love to anyone who would take it, hoping they wouldn't bite the hand that helped them. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they hurt us. Sometimes, though, we were able to hold them through the hurt. My mother never seemed to run dry of compassion, and though my father was busy working long hours, he was often right there beside her, lending a firm arm for guidance, offering a good example of tender manliness.

I find this attitude inspiring, and as I grow older, it's something I hope to emulate to greater degrees. I want my life to be marked by compassion. Perhaps this is why I have such a heart for social justice issue, for the homeless, the outcast, the addicted, the broken, abused and enslaved. My parents instilled in me a love for strays...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a can of tuna...







GraceAndPeace.

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