Speak Eagle

The Petak Who Didn’t Want to Move to Colorado

There was one Petak who didn’t want to move to Colorado. He loved his home, his friends, his familiar hangouts, watching bluebirds every spring check out the houses for rent in the backyard. nerf warsSo, when the night came to load up the last of the riff-raff and pile in the car, he whined, even caterwauled. Heels dug in. Why can’t we stay?

It had been an emotional day of friends stopping by to give sweet gifts, reminiscing years of memories made in the playground behind our house, crawdad hunting in the creek, and cream sodas at the Nolensville Feed Mill. But now the goodbyes had been said, the house was officially empty and blessed for the new family by a final prayer, the moving truck was already on it’s way out west. playgroundThe last of the nerf-shrapnel on the front porch was a reminder that there were too many memories here to ever leave.

But leave we did, driving out of Bent Creek and into the night. And the little Petak whined some more. Looked out the window anxiously. All the way up I-24 and I-65. Whined through a long traffic jam, finally crashing at a hotel in Clarksville for some shut-eye. (We didn’t get far that first night.)

Yet, the hotel room was unfamiliar and sleeping was only accomplished fitfully with one eye open. We ate a hurried breakfast and re-packed the car, then gathered up all the little Petaks to head westward. But our one little anxious Petak had disappeared. Completely vanished.

Winston in box croppedWe turned the hotel room upside down, looking under tables, in the bathtub, even in the fridge. With so many other big and little boys entering and exiting the room throughout the morning, we came to the sad conclusion that our grey tabby kitty, Winston Petak, must have slipped out unnoticed. And with an expansive area of wild brush behind the hotel, we were sure he was long gone.

After an intensive hunt, we gave up. I sobbed in the hotel room, “God has asked me to say goodbye to so much. I didn’t know He would ask me to say goodbye to Winston, too!”Baymont Inn Tearfully, I got in the car and we pulled away. If he survived, I imagined he would be teased mercilessly by the tough cats in the wild brush because of his purple collar, a sure sign of soft domestication.

But 80 miles down the road, we received a phone call. “We found your cat.”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked. “Where?”

In your hotel room,” the manager answered. She clearly wasn’t as happy as I was.

I couldn’t imagine where he had been hiding, perhaps lying flat as a pancake, motionless under the bedspread?

catMy cat-loving friend, Alexa, drove up to Clarksville to get him. My neighbor, Tammy, retrieved him from Alexa’s house later that day. And with some marketing help from the Bent Creek dog-walker, Heidi, my other neighbor, Erin, offered to keep Winston until I could come back for him. Oh, yes, it takes a village to rescue a wayward soul.

So, we moved to Colorado minus one Petak and we guessed he didn’t mind. In fact, any one of us might have been tempted to follow suit if given the chance. Any one of us might have hidden under that hotel bedspread flat as a pancake. The unfamiliar and unknown are often unwanted.

But our welcome was warm as we were graciously showered with Colorado survival kits of chapstick and blankets, lasagna, cookies from neighbors, and offers to help unpack. Furniture found new places and spaces were claimed, even nerf darts soon raced again through the air.

Traveling with cat
Flying cat

I flew back to Nashville for a women’s event a few weeks later and captured the grey tabby renegade, assuring him that Colorado wasn’t all that bad, he would make new friends, and there would be birds to watch again in the backyard. He still dug in his heels and whined a bit, but since he was quite drugged and confined to a carrier, the caterwauling was kept at a minimum on the flight home.

Home.

He sniffed his way anxiously through the house, shrugged off our warm pats and assurances, again whining and caterwauling at the unfamiliar. And then, a week later, despite our attempts to walk him around the yard on a leash and explain his boundaries, he snuck out the back door and disappeared into the black night.

Colorado threats
A huge hawk poses with a dead rabbit on our backyard fence post

Colorado is a wild and scary place. They’ve found pet collars in hawk nests. And coyote packs and bears wander the neighborhood. If a hawk doesn’t get you, another creature a few steps up the food chain surely will. That night I hardly slept, imagining Winston’s fate, convinced he was trying to find his way back to our home in Tennessee. I knew I had done my best to take care of him, to bring him home and help him acclimate. Now it was up to him to make the choice to stay.

Some days there are still tears. So much newness in such little time. Anxious hearts pray and wonder if new friends ever will come around, if we’ll ever again run into someone we know in the disheartening maze of a new school, new grocery store, new town. If what is disturbingly unfamiliar can ever possibly become familiar, known, and wanted.

Oh, wait. I digress. You’re wondering what happened to Winston.

Early the next morning, Brian woke me up. “Guess who’s sitting on the deck?”

Winston had come home. And in that moment, it seemed that all of the Petaks,even the one (okay, more than one) who didn’t want to move to Colorado, had made the choice to stay .cat sleeping

We sang a song on Sunday at church by All Sons and Daughters that brought a flood of emotions. It’s not easy to leave the comfort of the familiar. But today, God is calling us higher and deeper to trust Him and follow. The truth is, home isn’t really a place. It’s a person. And His name is Jesus.

“Called Me Higher”

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy light the path before me

Cause You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord

1 thought on “The Petak Who Didn’t Want to Move to Colorado”

  1. Colleen O'Connell

    Heidi, I ached with you through every word of your tale! And I suspect the joy I feel at its conclusion might approach that which you felt. Winston (and dare I say all the Petaks) are where they are meant to be. God bless!

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