For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
We buried our pet cat the other day. Don’t worry, this isn’t a completely sad story. In fact it started as a humorous adventure.
Our family lives in the country in rural Indiana. We have a barn, an assortment of animals, and a ton of children! I’m not particularly a cat person, but on a farm, barn cats are a necessity. We have three black cats who do the job quite nicely.
One day an orange cat showed up at our back door and just stood there looking inside. We all stared back at him in surprise. Where in the world did he come from? We didn’t feed him at first because we aren’t cat people. We assumed he would move along and find his way home or to another house with a family who was more in tune to his little kitty needs. This did not happen. Day after day, the orange cat sat on the porch and stared inside. If I’m being honest, it was a little creepy. We finally carried him out to the barn and showed him where we kept the cat food. We figured he would settle in there for the time being or move along.
Month after month, he returned to our back door until he realized that he could use the doggy door. He let himself inside, and one morning I found him in the mudroom staring at me. “That’s it!” I thought, “he has got to go.” I took him to a friend’s house 15 miles away. She let him inside and spoiled him with blankets and snuggles and yummy food. I felt good about my problem-solving skills. A week later, my friend told me with regret that the orange cat had slipped out the door and never came back. I smiled a little thinking of the orange cat and his free spirit. One week later, I walked into the mudroom and nearly jumped out of my skin. There was the orange cat. “Ok fine! I give up. You can stay,” I declared. But I am not going to name you. You are not my cat! I will call you Orange Kitty, and that’s it!“ He just kept staring.
Just before Christmas Orange Kitty got sick. Something was just a little off (although we all agreed that something was always off with this cat). We brought him inside and made him a bed. He perked up a little and eventually wandered outside. We thought things were probably fine, but a few weeks later, he showed back up on the porch and didn’t even make it to the dog door. My kids and I saw him collapse. We ran outside, scooped him up, and brought him in. He was skin and bones. Over the next week, we fed him soft food and gave him water with an eye dropper. He did not get better. My children cared for him lovingly around the clock. As they attended to his needs, I began to hope he would recover. Then I began to pray that he would recover. Then I began to beg God that he would recover. I didn’t want my children to feel the disappointment, loss, and even feelings of failure they might feel if Orange Kitty died. He died anyway.
That’s the thing about life. There is a time and a season for everything. For Orange Kitty, for me, for my children, this was a time to die. And that’s ok. My children learned about compassion, care, and dignity in death. They helped care for him, and they helped bury him. We cried a little, and we laughed a lot. Orange Kitty, our unwanted guest, taught us so much about the shifting seasons and broad purposes in this life.
Lord, I ask that whatever season I am in, You will show me my purpose. I pray for acceptance and peace today. Amen