Here in our neighborhood a full grown Florida panther has taken up residence. We think the big cat is a female with a cub in the adjacent swamp lands, but no one has seen the youngster yet, but mama kitty has been seen and heard on numerous occasions.
Last year she was seen crossing a county road only fifty yards from a young girl awaiting the morning school bus, but since then she had not been spotted until about two weeks ago when my neighbor, returning from a day in Jacksonville, spotted her in the wood line at the end of his property as he returned in the dark. We've heard her in the distance with her telltale growl, but not until the last several days did she become a threat to any of our family critters.
On a recent morning walking into the barn to feed the horses there were no barn cats anywhere to be found. That's very unusual because they usually come when they hear the dishing out of feed, but no, they stayed away. That afternoon one appeared, then another, and sauntered into the barn to grab a bite and a drink of water and then disappear again. By the end of the next day we had seen all but one, Patty Cake, an older pure white cat who is routinely a loner but normally comes for a short visit, albeit an aloof one, at mealtime.
Now in our fourth day, all but Patty Cake can be accounted for and we surmise that she must have fallen prey to the big cat or something else out there. It could, of course, have been a snake or even a coyote; we'll likely never know for sure but she would not be missing this long unless she walked into a situation which was fatal for her. When a big cat stalks a smaller one, there isn't much of a contest, for whether they be wild or tame, they all have the same basic instincts and, of course, the wild one would have a huge natural advantage in size and experience.
And this is just one natural example of just how fleeting life can be, both for our four legged and other critter friends as well as for ourselves. Life is a gift and with it come choices, situations and pitfalls as well as moments of happiness, fun and joy. So make the most of it, my friends, and always have your heart in the right place, for when your number is up as it was obviously for poor little Patty Cake, it's too late to follow a different path. And while our animal friends are endowed with great instinct, we humans have the capability of opening our heart to receive salvation through faith.
Make the right choices, friends, and make sure they start with belief in a living God. He gave us free will to make those choices and if we choose to open our hearts to Him and follow His guidelines the opportunity of a lifetime is provided: the gateway to Eternal Life. Choose the right things with your free will, open yourself up to the Creator who made all things, and your life can continue onward for eternity. It's all about choices, folks, all about choices. Choose wisely and God bless.