Originally appeared on spirituality.com
I’ve always been avidly interested in animals, domestic and wild, and have had a number of pets over the years. A few months ago, our family adopted a handsome four-year-old Seal Point Siamese cat from a rescue organization. We signed a form agreeing that we would keep this cat, whom we named Ming, indoors. At first that was easy, since he hid inside our bedroom closet and didn’t want to come out, let alone go outside! He was also easily spooked, and had issues with biting.
During this time, as I was caring for him, I frequently prayed about the issue of his feeling unprotected and feisty, and I often spoke about how he had nothing to be afraid of, since God, Love, was all around. After about ten days, he emerged from the closet, but still ventured no farther than the bedroom. As he became adjusted to our home and family members, his curiosity took over, and he began to explore other areas in the house.
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Then one evening, we realized he was nowhere to be found, and it was already dark outside. This cat had never been let outside in his whole life, and he was, of course, not even familiar with our yard. Family members had been going in and out the front door, and somehow, Ming had slipped out. But I didn’t want to waste time placing blame, or trying to figure out who was responsible. It was more important to me to respond immediately with prayer, and to focus on finding our new pet.
With flashlight in hand, my husband and I started searching around the dozens of shrubs and trees. I was praying to know that Ming could never be outside God’s loving care, and the Christ, God’s ongoing message of comfort and promise, filled my thoughts. Right then, Christ Jesus’ statement about sparrows, that “not one of them” can fall to the ground without God’s knowledge, came to me.
A friendly tabby cat jumped out of nowhere, but no Ming.
The search continued. Soon it was around midnight, and I was trying to overcome a host of fears for his safety. Would he know how to get home if he strayed? Would he be able to defend himself against other animals, since he’d been declawed by a previous owner? I mentally declared that Ming’s protection came from the always-present, intelligent, divine Mind. Even though other cats and even raccoons frequented our area, I was beginning to feel that divine Love was keeping Ming safe and secure. God guards and guides all His creatures, including Ming.
At that point, I went inside and turned to the book of Psalms in the Bible. I read verses praising God for His wonderful works, for His goodness and mercy. I thought of the familiar, helpful 23rd Psalm, where we read, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” In this situation the “valley of the shadow” meant to me that even if Ming was confronted with danger, God would be with him.
I went to bed, and before dawn, awoke and went outside to search the backyard again, but to no avail. So I walked back inside and began to study the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, filled with citations from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I felt I needed to pray more deeply and earnestly about understanding this situation from God’s perspective. The subject of the Lesson was “Mind,” a synonym for God. Everything I was learning supported the fact that each creature of God, including our cat, expressed the attributes of Mind, including intelligence. And each could respond to God’s shepherding.
One sentence from Science and Health was particularly helpful: “The substance, Life, intelligence, Truth, and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected by His creation; and when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere.” I realized that the mental picture of a vulnerable, lost cat was simply an example of “false testimony,” or a sad image that contradicted the spiritual facts of God’s creation—the concept that each idea has its rightful place.
Gradually, I began to feel free of the fear, anxiety, and doubt suggesting there’d been a loss. I knew this was an important step in my prayers and that I couldn’t give up on my efforts or let discouragement creep into my consciousness and prevent me from expecting a resolution. It was helpful to ponder a phrase from Hymn No. 66 from the Christian Science Hymnal that refers to God’s all-encompassing presence, “…None can beyond Thy omnipresence stray.”
After the sun came up, I walked around the block, still searching. This time, I felt peaceful, thinking about how none of God’s creatures could stray beyond His presence and care. When my searching still appeared futile, it felt appropriate to take additional steps. So I visited the local animal shelter and took down names and numbers of helpful suggestions, websites, and hotlines that facilitated finding a lost cat.
When I got home, my husband and I were discussing the wording of a poster I planned to put up around the neighborhood. Right at that moment, I heard a sound that I would not normally characterize as heavenly—the loud meowing of a cat. Ming was at the front door, meowing as loudly and insistently as he could! He sauntered in and spent most of that day meticulously cleaning himself from what appeared to be a long stint under some shrubbery.
Our family continues to be mindful of Ming’s whereabouts when we are going out the front door or answering it. No more outings for Ming! He stays close by us and is content with indoor activities like playing with his little stuffed owls, sometimes dropping them at our feet. We feel blessed to have such a lively expression of God in our family, and are all so thankful he was led safely home.