23 November 2011


There has appeared outside of my cabin a black cat. It had stalked the backyard for weeks sensing, I suppose, the presence of our two well-fed cats living within the house. Of course, whenever I enter the backyard either on my way to or from the cabin the black cat would scurry away in fear. I was opposed to adopting yet another cat that would require food and shelter and veterinary care. After almost twenty-five years of cats, I had resisted the adoption of the two new ones we eventually acquired at the pleas of my daughter vowing I would assume no responsibility for their feeding or care. I even swore to myself they could not sit in my lap and shed all over my clothes.And so I tried as best I could to avoid the black cat that stalked the backyard. But once a week or so ago I carelessly (and thoughtlessly) tossed an unfinished plate of fairly unpalatable food into the brush outside the cabin. And very soon the black cat appeared and lapped up the fare. Actually, over about three days he returned and savored the remains of what I had considered inedible.
     The cat continued to return to the brush under the now bare tree searching for a next meal. I would see it sitting out where it had earlier eaten, or it would sit outside my cabin door staring in, not unlike the house-bound cats sitting at the windows looking out. They, however, are warm, and winter here is icumen in. And I couldn’t bear its suffering. I brought some food out to the cabin and began to feed the animal knowing that this would now condemn me to feed it daily. Oh, I know nature is red in tooth and claw, but I think that if there is sin, then what we humans have done to the animals of the earth is sinful. Perhaps this one is a feral cat, but there are too many mistreated animals roaming about the outdoors abandoned by people who have grown weary of caring for them or become too poor to feed them. There is a long, sordid history of our cruel massacre and exploitation of the animals of the earth. I suppose I am part of that crime.
     In the beginning, the Bible says, all of God's creations were vegetarian, and the lamb and the gazelle were not afraid to lay down with the lion. God blessed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and said to them: "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be food for you. And to the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food. And it was so" (Genesis 1:29-30). And all was good.
     But after the flood, God relented and permitted the eating of meat. "Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all of the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything." After the flood God seems to sigh and to acknowledge reluctantly that humans have been, and will continue to be hopelessly, innately immoral and venal. The permission to eat meat—the hunting and killing of animals—is the result of this recognition. After the flood Noah’s first act is to plant the vineyard and get ragingly drunk and his son, Ham, does something unnamable that results in Noah’s curse upon him and his descendants.
     I am usually a vegetarian. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I will sit at a full table at the center of which sits a roasted turkey and I will eat its flesh. It is my yearly acknowledgement of God’s sigh.
    But I will leave a full bowl for the black cat and hope that the temperature does not drop too severely.


Post a Comment

<< Home