Tuesday, August 18, 2015

E-mail August 9, 2015: "Cat Tails & Cloward Tales"

Let me tell you the story of Elder Cloward and the cat:

One month ago when I first arrived in my new apartment my companion warned me to watch where I step because some local cats made a mess on the front porch. "No big deal" I thought, "I'll just clean it up so we don't have to worry about it." And so I did, but when we returned after our first day of proselyting in my new area I was surprised and dismayed to see that the cats had returned and done their business again, except this time it had rained and spread the mess and the smells all over the place. Not wanting to mess with the mess at that time we left it for a few days, but every day we left it, it got worse and the stench began to seep into our apartment through the windows. Finally I got up the courage to clean the mess, and it wasn't very pleasant. Because we'd let it sit so long, it was very difficult and nauseating to clean. To quote Mormon- "And now behold, I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of [stinking cat mess] as was laid before mine eyes; but I, knowing that these things must surely be made known, and that all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops—"

So what did I learn from this? The mess left by the cats reminded me of sin and the consequences of not repenting. Sin is gross, sin has a stench, and it's much easier to repent as soon as we can than to let it sit because we're afraid. If we do let it sit it only gets worse and worse until the guilt and pain begin to seep into every part of our lives, and it's usually harder to clean up than if we had repented quickly. The wonderful promise is that if we repent quickly and thoroughly the mess can be washed away completely and the stench will be completely gone.

To continue with the story, after that incident we made sure to clean up quickly the mess the cats made, but the pattern continued. We'd clean up in the morning, we'd come home to a new mess. Over and over and over this was repeated until it about drove me crazy.  So I decided to do what needed to be done and rid our apartment of those wild cats. My first attempt was futile and, in retrospect, kinda pathetic. I concealed raw chili sauce inside two loaves of bread, broke it up, and scattered it over our porch. I hoped that the cats would eat my fiery sandwich, get serious indigestion, and be scared to come back. My plan failed miserably though when instead of leading them to stay away, the chili sauce led to a much worse mess the next day.

10 points for Elder Cloward's brilliance. Yay.

I figured now that the only way we'd be able to get rid of them for good would be to catch them and move them far away from our apartment, however I realized soon that it was much easier said than done. For anyone who's ever tried to catch a wild cat, you know that they're extremely skittish and you can't get close to them without scaring them off. I decided to try a trap made from materials we had on hand, namely a wash tub, a plastic hanger, and a jump rope. The plan was this: I would put some dried anchovies underneath the wash tub and then prop up the tub with the hanger. I would attach the jump rope to the hanger and conceal myself inside the apartment with the other end. When the cat came along and went under the tub for a snack I would pull the rope letting it fall to trap the unlucky feline. My companion thought I was crazy and rolled his eyes every time I scared the cat away because some part of my trap went wrong. What my companion didn't realize though, is that every time it failed I learned how to make the trap a little better until two days later to his utter surprise I successfully nabbed the little mess maker. We were both excited to be rid of the problem until we realized that we had no cage or anything else to transport it in. We decided to use a cardboard box but as we tried to move the cat form the trap to the box it slipped through the slots in the lid and got away. Undeterred and still determined to solve the problem, I tried to catch the cats again with my trap, but there was a problem. The cat's knew what we were up to now and they were much more careful. They recognized our faces and wouldn't come near our apartment until we had left for the day. I knew I would have to be smarter as well, so I started trying different methods to lead them to where I could trap them. I started luring them in by making a trail of food from where I knew they rested to my trap. I started disguising myself by wrapping up in a blanket so they wouldn't recognize me when they came close, I started cooking different foods for them so the smells would draw them in, I even moved the trap as close as I could to where they slept so it would be more enticing to try it again. My companion said I was obsessed, I called it determination, although I will admit there were times when I felt a little bit like Capt. Ahab chasing Moby Dick. Regardless though, as I employed all my efforts to catch them, it finally worked again. It was late at night, my trap was baited, and I was concealed with my jump rope ready to pounce. As I waited in the darkness I saw the two cats slowly come out of the shadows and make their way to a treasure trove of steaming scrambled eggs and corned beef. I was surprised when the first cat followed the trail, looked under the tub at the almost irresistible bait, and walked on by. I realized that this was the same cat we had trapped before and knew not to go into the trap again, no matter how enticing. His friend, on the other hand, didn't know what was waiting and slipped right in, and with nothing more than a quick jerk I had nabbed him. This time we knew we needed something more than a box to keep him in (the tub itself was too big to transport anywhere) and as we looked around, a MacGyver-like instinct kicked in and we realized that the cage from one of our stand-up fans would be perfect. After unscrewing the cage and using a sheet to protect ourselves from flying claws, we slipped the cat inside and the next day we set him free in a neighborhood far away from our apartment.

Through this experience I had to learn how to perfect my trap enough that it would be effective yet still enticing enough to lure in the prey, and I realized that what I was doing was exactly what the devil does to bind each of us. Look at this story again and instead of Elder Cloward and a couple of cats imagine that it's the devil trying to ensnare the saints. The devil has been doing what he does for a long time and his traps are made with extreme cunning. Just like my trap with the cats, his plan consists of 3 steps- lure, trap, bind. He lures us by enticing us with things we like, he sets the temptations as close as he can to us, and he often disguises himself so that we'll come near. He traps us by tempting us enough that we eventually commit sin, and he binds us by telling us that it's not that bad or, if it's a big sin, by making us scared to confess and repent. My challenge today is to remember that the devil is good at what he does. He doesn't chase after us with a net, he doesn't stand out in the open and wait for us to come close, he slowly and carefully lures us in until it's too late. Remember also that we have a friend who is always there to rescue us. We have a perfect Redeemer who can break apart any cages that we've fallen into if we'll only turn to Him and do what is necessary to repent.

So, if you think you're being led on to temptation right now, get away as fast as you can. If you've already fallen and you feel bound by the adversary don't let the sin sit and stink, repent and come back, today.

Anyways everyone until next time, don't be a foolish cat, be a wise saint. :)
-Elder Cloward

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