It's been a rough week for me. I don't typically subscribe to "it's a full moon" theory, but for me, intersections between life and faith include the natural world, which has divine rhythms all its own, rhythms that can rock our world from time to time.
What started my little personal earthquake during this full moon week was the sound of my dog playing with a squeak toy in the back yard at 6:45 Monday morning. Apparently still not fully awake, it took me a few minutes of hearing this noise to realize that the pieces didn't fit. Jenna doesn't have any squeaker toys, but that's the sound a squirrel makes when she catches it (which has happened on rare occasion).
I rushed out the door, yelling at her to stop, which she reluctantly did while keeping her eyes locked on this poor, young squirrel frantically seeking shelter under our pool deck. The mother squirrel was beside herself, chattering nonstop and racing up and down the big maple in the center of our backyard, clearly panicked for her baby but unable to do anything with the dog and me in her way.
I didn't see blood, but her offspring was obviously injured or deformed. I took Jenna inside, stepping out a few minutes later to discover the little thing had somehow made its way to my patio and had curled up behind the safety of our bags boards ... right next to the sliding door. Great. Just what I need, I thought.
I spent the day letting Jenna out the front door and checking on the squirrel, who was still hanging on, watching me soundlessly with big, dark, unblinking eyes. Yet as if listening to the mother squirrel's frantic calls that morning were not enough, I spent an hour that afternoon listening to the worried cry of a mother bird whose baby had fallen out of the nest Sunday night and was stranded on the ground in our side yard. This poor little thing barely even had feathers, and I was sure wouldn't make it through the night with all the neighborhood cats on patrol.
Yet it did. Finally gaining enough strength to fly and rejoin its mom back in our huge front yard maple the following day. The squirrel, I'm relieved to report, also left our field hospice under its own power Monday night and has not been seen since. I'm hopeful it reunited with its family, as well.
But the thing that I wrestled with all week was the fact that my life felt so out of sorts over my hearing and seeing the suffering of living creatures and not being able to do anything about it besides offer a place of rest and some water. How, I wondered, can I be so disturbed by the panicked cries of animal mothers for their babies and yet be so unmoved, on a regular basis, by the deep pain and suffering that takes place every second of the day in the human lives around me?
I think the answer lies in the fact that we've become insulated--or at least I have--living where I do. Ongoing, visible, audible pain and suffering are usually not out in the open in our community, but I'm quite sure people are dealing with it, day in and day out. And as much as the world's hurt often stays hidden in our area, I know I don't have to travel to far down the road in any direction to hear a mother's cries for her child for real.
And for me, that's a sobering thought--and one that holds me accountable to God. If I say I'm a friend of Jesus, then I'd better be looking at this world through his eyes, seeing what he sees and offering hope and healing in his name.
Truly, this week was for me a wake up call of sorts, jolting out of my busy routines in order to pay closer attention to the needs of the people God is placing in my path. It also made very real for me the words of Dino Rizzo, author of the book Servolution, which we're reading as a church council right now.
Rizzo writes: "We may never know until we get to heaven how our service and our simple acts of kindness have affected the course of a life, a community or even a nation. If we do nothing, the result will be--nothing!"
My prayer for us all would be that we can start where we are and do what we can with what we have (to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt). May we be able to look around us with Jesus's eyes, see what he sees and be called to action to serve as he served. Life is too short not to. Amen. Let it be.