By far the most interesting thing at my house in the last week was our cat Simba getting himself stuck in a tree, about 25 feet off the ground. He cried. He crooned. He paced the limb and then climbed higher. Ben couldn’t climb high enough to get him and our longest ladder was too short. The tree is on a slope making it all the more risky. We discovered him just before dark and had no choice but to leave him overnight.
Simba is 13 years old and not given to kitty-ness. If he were human, he’d have tattoos, a Harley and be no stranger to street fights and lethal violence. He’d have few committed relationships and only on his terms; meaning he’d come and go as he pleased and never apologize for rude behavior. He takes what he wants and rejects the rest. His most consistent attitude is boredom coupled with derision.
Three days of crooning and crying for help were hard on Simba. Yep, three days. Contrary to urban legend, the local firemen do not rescue cats from trees. Neither does animal control. However, a local tree man does. He’s safely rescued about 200 cats over the years, he told me on the phone. And in his experience, cats come down on their own after about 3 days, for want of water. Not Simba, and not because he didn’t want to. I think he discovered his one weakness ~ he’s afraid of heights. On a friend’s advice, I sprayed him with the hose, steadily for 15 minutes. He and I were both soaked but he didn’t come down. Once he finished his bath he wasn’t thirsty anymore either. I gave up and called the tree man again. It was Friday afternoon and he’d just finished a long week. I could hear his exhaustion over the phone but he agreed to come out to our house.
Mr. Wallace could be 50 or 70 years old. High school swimmers would envy his physique. His helper stayed on the ground to belay. He strapped himself into his climbing gear and asked me about Simba. Before he started up he began talking to him; like a daddy talking to a crying baby. “Are you tired boy? I know how you feel. It’s been a long week for me too.” The more he talked the more Simba cried as Mr. Wallace slowly spiked his way up the tree, moving his safety rope as he ascended. When he was level with Simba, he had to secure his equipment to work with both hands. Simba started to move away and he put out his hand. Simba came to him and he lifted him to his chest. Slowly he worked a pillowcase over Simba’s head and body, tying it so that he was immobilized inside. 13-year-old street fighting Simba allowed it, was docile even. The helper rapelled Simba down and carried him to the garage where Simba staggered and stumbled having no idea what he was supposed to do. He finally ate some fish from my hand and went to sleep.
“I might write about this for Tuesday morning,“ I told my husband. “Well, getting stuck in a tree where no amount of pride can get you down and your only hope is a man willing to climb up and save you sure seems appropriate for Holy Week. You should definitely write about that,” he said. I pretend that’s exactly what I was thinking too.
As we move through these last and most difficult days of Lent, I invite you to consider with gratitude and joy, “From what sort of life did Jesus rescue me? Up what tree would I be today if Jesus hadn’t come for me, hadn’t saved me?
Who could have imagined learning a lesson of faith from a cat like Simba? These days, he’s a contrite and loving fellow, sweetly sleeping at my side as I write. He even lets me hold him now. Even as we pray, let us give thanks for the lives of peace and contentment we have won in accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for us. peace & prayers, pastor annette