Since Tabby didn't really ask to leave the comforts of indoor living for the great outdoors, technically, she doesn't quite fit the analogy of the prodigal. But in a way, she does.
Tomorrow marks two months since I threw out the cat. In that time, she definitely "squandered her wealth (uh...fat tummy) in wild living." Heaven only knows how wild.
In the eight weeks of her exile, we caught 3 or 4 flashes of Tabby--all of them of her backside, running towards the woods. Unlike other cats who come when you call them, take siestas on the back porch wicker sofa, and play with my small children, she lived like a ghost.
The food bowl, full when the lights went out each night was sometimes empty in the mornings, many times not. I often wondered if I were feeding a possum or coon rather than an angry cat.
To say my conscience was burdened with thoughts of how I should have (or could have) handled the situation differently is an understatement. Then, through a totally unrelated conversation with my husband, God brought the nagging concept of "everybody deserves a chance at redemption" to my heart.
Yes, she's a cat and not a person, but the idea wouldn't let me go. So, I decided to bring her back into the fold, to welcome her home with a can of wet cat food and lots of snuggles...if I could catch her.
Enter one live-raccoon-trapping-cage, some prayers for God to bring her home, and voila, she was back indoors, purring and sleeping curled up in my arms before noon.
Over the past nine days, with a few modifications on my part to keep her prior sins from repeating themselves, her return has been celebrated much like that in the parable of The Prodigal Son.
True to form, her older sister became angry and spent several days hissing at Tabby's very presence before reluctantly accepting the change. While I haven't killed any fattened calves, I've broken open more the usual number of wet cat food cans . Then, there has been a lot of hugging, purring, and snuggling. And even though Tabby hasn't confessed that she sinned against me in her actions, she has behaved impeccably well, seemingly better for her two month hiatus from the cushy comforts of home.
You may see only an ugly cat. But in this story, I see the pattern of sin, of grace--unmerited favor--of mercy and love...of redemption.