Cats, babies and other miracles

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

It seems redundant to ask if you believe in miracles this time of year. We've had an overabundance of miracle stories, movies, sermons, etc. bombarding us since we broke the turkey's wishbone last November.

But - do you believe in miracles?

I'm a tired old reporter who has seen too much of the bad things people do to each other and not nearly enough of the good things, which tends to move my miracle-believing quotient way down the equation, somewhere under "You can believe everything a politician tells you."

But I've had to rethink that stance recently (the one on miracles, not the one on politicians). Besides the incredible Christmas morning miracle from my Secret Santa, I've had two other encounters of the Twilight Zone kind. Last weekend I had to run into work to check on a possible story, which fell through. I took advantage of my escape from the bedlam known as Home After Christmas Toys Have Been Unwrapped and snuck down to Huddle House to read a few chapters in my book and to get a caffeine fix.

I headed home then, absently wondering if it wasn't time to start looking for a kitten. (The main character of my book was named Tasha, just like my late-great and escaped cat of almost 10 years.) I still grieved for my plump little tabby, but I feel empty without a cat in the house and I was ready to start looking. As I pulled into the driveway, a young rabbit shot across my headlight beams - followed by a skinny little tabby cat at full throttle. After 20 minutes of gentle coaxing, flat on my back in the sticker bushes, Tasha came out and curled up in my arms.

The rumors of her demise were greatly exaggerated.

Several pounds lighter than she was when she slipped out of an open door, she got a clean bill of health (and a millions booster shots) from the vet. I had to wonder - where had she been hiding, night after night, when I prowled the wilderness behind our house, calling her name? What had she been doing? How had she, and old house cat, survived?

I decided I didn't care - she was home at last and even a jaded old reporter knows a miracle when she sees one.

On New Year's Day, a second miracle. I heard from my baby brother (at 37, Ha!) who told me that after more than three years of trying, he and his wife were finally expecting a child. Just that morning, I had looked a huge stack of baby clothes I'd been saving for years, hoping I'd get to send them to David out in Arizona. I decided, hours before he called, that it was time to give them away.

The ironic thing about these miracles is that they came to me, not after I'd persevered in faith, but as I was on the verge of giving up. If it has taught me anything, it is that the Lord helps those who help themselves, and the best miracles get a healthy push from us.

But it also taught me that sometimes, when God answers a prayer, that answer is "Yes."