Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Cat and the Christ Child

The cat crept into the cave. Stripey, she was, in the daylight.  But now, well past sunset and the settling of darkness, she was as black as any other cat.  The tabby's left ear twitched, cocked over her left shoulder as she heard the rustling in the straw strewn over the floor.  A great ox lying nearby snorted softly as he dropped his head to the ground.  His horn made a small spark and a clack! as it made contact with the rock.  He exhaled.  His nares vibrated briefly then all was still.

The cat remained motionless.  Long moments dragged slowly by.  In the distance an owl called to its mate.  Then the rustling began again as the mice resumed feeding on the loose grain in the straw.  The cat's right fore paw inched forward, settled softly, then the left paw raised, advanced, soundlessly touched the rock, then pounce!  Her prize in her claw, then between her jaws, she nestled close to the belly of the ox and dropped the mouse.  Stunned and addled but still with a will to live the creature staggered and attempted to run.  But the cat casually reached out, dragged it back.  Again she released it, this time allowing the creature to "get away."  But the cat sprang, recaptured the mouse and lay down again.  She played her cruel game with the small captive for several minutes, but finally tired of it and overcome with hunger she crunched its skull between  her teeth, then dined on her catch.

So Stripey, sated, slept.

A ruckus arose within the stable.  A pair of human creatures shuffled into the space, one carrying a blazing fagot in one hand as with the other he supported the woman who staggered in and collapsed on the floor.  A donkey followed them.  Then entered a large nondescript dog close on the heels of the ass.  He went to the female human creature and started licking her cheek while the man wedged the torch into a notch in the wall that served as a sconce. The presence of the canine got the attention of the sleeping cat, which started and sprang to her feet.  She scaled the flank of the ox where she settled, thus attaining a full view of the goings-on.  The ox slept on.

Soon there was frantic activity, the man bustling around the woman, the woman writhing and screaming in obvious pain. All the creatures in the stable stirred restlessly, the sheep bleated, and even the ox raised its head and voiced his concern.  Following a protracted episode of heavy breathing and intermittent screams, everything fell silent for a few moments.  Then suddenly the mewling sounds of the crying of a new man-child pierced the quiet.

The man patiently worked at cleanup chores, handed the infant to its mother.  Everyone except the man, the woman, and the cat finally went back to sleep.  Then the woman laid the tiny human creature in a cradle of straw the man had constructed.  The tabby, her tail erect and switching from side to side drawing esses and zees in the air, left her perch on the ox and sauntered casually toward the small human.  As the cat approached the child, the dog lifted its head, raised itself up on its two forelegs.  The cat said not a word but gave the canine the evil-eye.  The dog lay back down.  The cat circled the child and we might imagine that she was thinking, "Big deal.  Just another human." Then she went back and snuggled into the warmth of her bovine friend again.

 Which all took place before the gaggle of rough and ragged men began to fill up the space, babbling about a Heavenly Presence that came to them in the fields praising God and telling them that this child  in the stable was The Christ!

Merry Christmas!
and let there be peace, at least between you and me. 

©David W. Lacy 2015


5 comments:

Grace said...

Merry Christmas...

Secondary Roads said...

May the peace between us be spread among us and all who rejoice at His coming.

vanilla said...

Grace, reciprocating wishes for merriment and blessings!

Chuck, the peace he brings is an offering to us; we accept it and rejoince in it!

Sharkbytes said...

nice word picture. I thought for a minute you might be headed toward that picture going around of a dog licking a baby saying something like "there, there, poor little naked ugly puppy"

vanilla said...

Sharkey, you made me happy that I shared the tale. I believe I have not seen the picture you reference, but the concept is similar in that the story rather expresses my doubts that the animals bowed down to worship. Oh, that reminds me. I think some years ago I wrote about the tradition in the hills of Appalachia that told us of the animals bowing at midnight on Twelfth Night.