Dusty the Cat straggled into my dad’s life unexpectedly. He looked to be at death’s door. A filthy coat of long matted blond hair hung on his boney frame and dull eyes peered from his sad face. Dad decided to keep Dusty and make him a shop cat if he lived. Little by little, with regular meals, the bedraggled feline began to gain weight and his eyes grew brighter. A spirally metal curry comb sat on the patio table where Dusty would have his fur groomed by Dad, Mom, and any willing guests. Grandkids especially liked this job because they saw Dusty looking better. Matted fur became clean and fluffy. The full tail began to look like an exotic bird feather as it stood high in the air with hair gracefully falling down like a golden fountain.
After several years of love in the Siebken family, Dusty began acting funny. Dad found him in the street wandering aimlessly at times. A visit to the veterinarian revealed a surprise diagnosis. Dusty had become blind.
Instead of confining Dusty to the safety of the shop behind closed doors, Dad carefully installed a knee-high, woven wire fence extending the thirty or so feet from the shop to the house and back. The narrow enclosure was only about a yard wide but allowed Dusty to be outdoors enjoying the warm sun in the mornings and cool, shady grass in the afternoons. Whenever Dad was near, Dusty would wander toward his voice until bumping into the fence. He would then move along the fence, getting closer to the familiar voice and receive some Grampa lovin’. When it was time to eat, Dad would gently pick up the cat and carry him to bowls of food and fresh water.
It was a beautiful Easter Sunday when I first witnessed the enclosure and tender interactions between a now blind cat and a kind grampa. With thoughts of our Savior on my mind and the love of our Heavenly Father for all of us, I began to see similarities in the loving connections of my dad and Dusty the cat.
First, I thought about how we all come to our Father in Heaven, greatly in need, as Dusty came to Dad. We are offered love and comfort while being fed the bread of life and led to living waters. Our gnarly coats of sinfulness, ingratitude, and pride are gradually cleansed and groomed, being replaced with more kindness, love, and joy by the unmatched gift of the Savior’s atonement as we “Come Unto Him and Hear Him” with repentance and by living His commandments.
As I thought about Dusty’s blindness, I realized that he didn’t have to see my Dad to hear his voice and respond by moving toward that caring, loving sound. We too, in our spiritual blindness, can move toward our Father in Heaven without seeing him. We respond by listening to His voice in scripture reading, prayers, promptings, and whisperings of the spirit. We are then able to hear His voice in our lives. He will carry us gently toward eternal life.
Lastly, I considered the short little fence. Dusty easily could have gotten himself over it if he had tried, but instead chose to stay within the bounds of that enclosure where he was safe. Going beyond would have put him in the face of unknown dangers. Dusty trusted the safety net provided by my father, knowing he had all he needed within those bounds. Our Father in Heaven has placed a fence of safety and peace in our lives. It is woven from the commandments of God and wise counsel from our parents, leaders, friends, and mentors who see dangers that we may be blind to. We can choose to jump our fence of safety and take chances by breaking the commandments of God, but by doing this we face grave spiritual and temporal dangers. Our trust in a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ keep us filled with gratitude within the perimeters the Lord has set.
The tenderness and love exhibited by my dad for Dusty may seem a small thing, but they exemplify the great loving tenderness and mercy that our Father in Heaven has for us. With Easter upon us, during a worldwide disruption of pandemic and economic uncertainty, we are all blinded to what the future may bring. May we seek in every way to listen to the calming voice of our loving Father in Heaven and his beloved Son, Jesus Christ. May our eyes be opened to a newfound depth of faith, or even a glimmer of hope if that is all we can do.
I know that God lives, that Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world and His comfort is available to all who desire it. May Easter blessings come to this world. May our prayers continue for unprecedented unity and love, to our Heavenly Father who “giveth liberally and upbraideth not” (James 1:5).
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God …
Moses 6:63 And behold…all things are created and made to bear record of me … (even Dusty)
Mosiah 4:19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend on the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have.