This is Dexter, a rescue-cat. He was found wandering the streets of Chicago and brought to the Red Door Animal Shelter where my daughter, Maya, sometimes volunteers as a foster parent for stray cats. We call her the “Cat Whisperer” for her ability to calm and tame strays like Dexter—and he needed a lot of taming. Big, boisterous and street-smart, Dexter didn’t get along with the other cats and went stir-crazy in the crowded confines of the shelter. So Maya agreed to foster him until he settled down and a permanent family could adopt him. She brought him home to meet her sleek, tawny Siamese, Leonidas. I admit I didn’t like Dexter, at first. He was too rambunctious and seemed to bully our much-smaller “grand-cat,” Leonidas. But as the months passed and Maya worked her magic through love and discipline, I grew to appreciate Dexter’s unique personality. He liked to sleep in strange places, like the bathroom sink: Or on my son-in-law’s bass guitar: Or on top of my bookshelf when he came to visit: Or my fireplace mantel, which I had emptied as we prepared to move. It was almost as if he was volunteering to fill and decorate the barren space for me. At Christmas, he slept beneath my tree, as if hoping he might go home as someone’s Christmas present. Maya taught Dexter how to sit on command. How to play fetch with his little plastic ball. And how to play kitty-cat video games on her I-Pad. He loved those games, chasing birds or catching fish, and quickly reached level 3.
And then one day the animal shelter called. They had found a permanent home and a family for Dexter. It happened so fast that I didn’t get to say goodbye. When Maya called to tell me the news that he was gone, I felt a hole open up inside. I realized how much I would miss him, how much I had grown to love that large, rambunctious ball of shedding, white fur. We were happy for Dexter, sad for ourselves.
Leonidas missed him, too. They had become friends. Leonidas wandered through the empty rooms as if searching for Dexter, meowing plaintively. Maya felt so bad for him, she wondered if she should foster another cat. I didn’t think I could take the heartache a second time.
A week later the shelter called. Dexter was back! His new owners were unhappy and so was he. Would Maya consider taking him again? I think we all wept with joy. She told me, “If a cat can smile, then Dexter was grinning from ear-to-ear when he walked into our house.” She and her husband adopted him. Dexter belongs to them, now. He’s my beloved “grand-cat.”
I think the reason that Dexter’s story is so heart-warming is because it’s our story. In Christ, we were rescued from our former life, redeemed and made new, then adopted into the family of God. Like the psalmist, we sing, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him” (Psalm 62:1).Welcome home, Dexter. Welcome to our family.