Friday, August 19, 2011

The Little Ones


"Any favor or any compassionate reaching out may seem to be going nowhere at first, but may be planting a seed we can't see right now. Sometimes we need to just do the best we can and then trust in an unfolding we can't design or ordain." ~ Sharon Salzberg

In 2004, as my life was in turmoil, I merged onto the Scottsdale 101. Out of nowhere, a tiny 6-week old kitten came tumbling out of a freeway sound wall drainage pipe into rush hour traffic. I slammed on the brakes. Other cars followed suit creating a chain reaction that, gratefully, did not lead to an accident. Some drivers were angry and others cheered me on, as I did what nobody else would do... I jumped out of my car and scooped up the kitten who had made an unplanned entrance into the world beyond its feral existence underground. 

Not that it would ever be good, but the timing could not have been worse. My personal life was under tremendous strain which meant I was in no position to keep him. It was a terrible feeling to know that my heart was filled with compassion yet my ability to help was limited by my circumstances. 

Once I arrived home, I was relieved to discover that my fated cargo was alive. His bottom lip was torn from his chin but, beyond that, he was calm and appeared to have no broken bones. Even so, I knew he needed medical attention. I put him in a carrier, jumped back in the car, and headed towards the closest veterinary ER... hoping the staff would share my compassion and care for this precious little one in a way that I could not.  

They reluctantly took him in, despite knowing I couldn't take responsibility. I had to sign a waiver giving up my rights which meant no updates would be provided. I'd never know the end of his story, but I had done what I could to make a difference. A few days later, I returned to the area of the drainage pipe. As I stood on the other side of the sound wall, I noticed a small heart shaped rock at my feet. It would be from that moment on that I'd hold a fascination with hearts found in nature. This kitten had come in and out of my life for a reason which inspired these words: 

Guilt fills my head that I did not do enough,
but I will move on ~
For I know this gift of fate
 brings love and a lesson
that will help me carry on.
When I think of you, there is a reason.
There is a purpose.
 There is something to understand.
I want to be more. I want to do more.
 I will be more. I will do more.
 I thank you even when I can't breathe this pace,
because this experience brought me to a higher place.
So weak. So lost. You were just like me.
So inspired...
I now have courage to set myself free. 

This brings us to the other day, when I came across a different but equally precious little one.

On my way into Target, my eyes drifted to a crevice between the fire engine red curb and the hot August asphalt. Taking a closer look, I noticed what appeared to be a baby mouse or rat. Whatever type of rodent it was, it wasn't moving. I stepped over it onto the sidewalk and kept walking, but something told me to turn around. I knelt down and lightly pressed my finger into its back. It attempted to move but didn't move far.

Here we go again.  

My life in another phase of disarray, I couldn't help but be reminded of that little kitten. Like then, the timing was terrible, but there I was placing its limp body in an emptied out tool bin. I returned to my car, turned on the air conditioning, and placed a few drops of water in the bag. Handcuffed by my circumstances, I once again found myself doing the only thing I could. I drove to a veterinary hospital a few miles away.

I had taken my pets to this hospital before its expansion years ago, when I was living in Littleton and attending college. Their new facility and staff had tripled in size, but I hoped they'd still show the same kindness that existed back then. Sadly, that didn't happen. A customer had peered inside the bag as I was telling my story... "You are such a kind person to do this." She smiled and left the building, never knowing how I would be treated upon her exit.

All staff members were aloof, and I was disappointed by their unwillingness to help. I understand that it was "only" a mouse, but I was astonished they wouldn't even assist me with phone numbers or directions to alternate choices. I returned to my car deflated, only to notice something wonderful. This once lifeless little life was making a comeback. 

I didn't know where to go at that point, so I decided to drive to beautiful park down the road. I found a quiet spot next to a small bridge and stream and placed it on the ground. I was mesmerized by its natural instincts for survival. I watched and waited with patience, until it was enveloped by the tall grass and had disappeared from sight. Its odds of survival were slim but, like me, it was a fighter. No matter what happened, this location was more dignified than a steaming parking lot on a sweltering summer afternoon. It now stood a chance at life, and that would have to be enough.   


 

I've learned that good intentions don't always lead to the results we're after, but I'm proud of wanting to make a difference no matter how small. Don't get me wrong, though... I'm no saint or perpetual do-gooder. I am human after all. I've simply learned to embrace a sensitive nature that developed naturally, and partly as a coping mechanism, at a very young age. 

In a world of deadlines and struggles, it's easy to become desensitized or too busy. Lacking awareness, we miss the details or don't want to be bothered with the time it might take to help. I know firsthand, however, that much joy can be found in reaching out to those who have lost their way or are in need of assistance. Some may roll their eyes at my sensitivities but, as someone who has been rescued more than once this past year, I'm grateful for a heart big enough to have helped the little ones. What goes around, comes around. 




3 comments:

  1. you are amazing beyond words, Natalie. Thank you for sharing. It is a precious reminder to not let ourselves get too busy to help others in need. "Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me" (whether mice or men). Love you!

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  2. I wonder how many people needed to read this today. I know I did. Thank you.

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  3. Your heart is as big as it has always been!

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