The First Touch
I wasn’t satisfied with just feeding Gato. I wanted more. So the next time I put my plate down I bent over, put my elbows on my knees and hung my hands over the plate. If Gato wanted to eat he was going to have to get close to my hands. Naturally, when he saw me hunched over his plate he was cautious, but he came forward anyway. As he started to eat I brushed my hand across his ear. He flinched and drew back but didn’t leave. Instead, he came back for more.
Now Barbara got into the act. One day she took some canned salmon onto the porch, sat down and waited for Gato. It didn’t take too long before Gato was eager to approach her for some salmon. But now Barbara upped the ante in our game of cards – she held some salmon, making Gato eat it out of her hand if he wanted it. And he did. And she petted him in the process. Every once in a while Gato would get a hold of more finger than fish, but he was so gentle that he never bit down. When we held the food in the palm of our hands, he always took it delicately. He’d even lick our fingers to get that last bit of fishy flavor we had to offer. But when the salmon was gone, so was he.
And it only took nine months to pet Gato.
I eventually got into a morning habit of saving an extra bit of egg yolk from my breakfast and giving it to Gato. I’d take my coffee and my plate and sit cross-legged on the porch with hands on both sides of the plate. Sometimes I’d hold out a piece of egg and he’d come right up and take it from my hand. Other times while Gato ate the eggs off my plate I’d pet his head and back. He’d squirm around to the right and then to the left, and then he’d hunch way down, pulling his ears as close to his body as he could in hopes of ducking under my touch, but he kept coming back for more. Some mornings I felt like I was pushing my limits with Gato, so I’d just set the plate on the porch and say to him, “There you go. I won’t torture you this morning by petting you. I’ll let you eat in peace.” He never showed much appreciation for my gift, but he did clean the plate well.
Let’s be truthful. Gato didn’t come back to the porch because he enjoyed our presence and wanted to be touched. He came back for more food. He endured our touch to get what he wanted.
Random Lesson #2 – Everyone endures something negative to obtain what they really want.
We endure all types of things to get what we want. We don’t go to college because we enjoy the intense studying and endless paper writing. We go to obtain the degree that helps us obtain the career that we want. We endure driving lessons to obtain our license. We endure dentist visits to obtain healthy teeth.
Gato ate from our hand but didn’t want us to touch him. He just put up with it long enough to get what he wanted. Gato approached me when I had what he wanted and left when it was no longer available, or when the price of enduring my touch was no longer worth the payoff of eating the food.
What I realized is that in many ways, I’m Gato. I approach God when He has what I want, but when I’ve had my fill I’m good on my own. I’m ready and willing to take the stuff I want from God but I don’t always want God touching my stuff. I’ll endure His presence when there is no other way to get what I want. Other than that, I’m good on my own.