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, 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 of this event meant I was not in a position to keep him. Once I arrived home which was just a couple of minutes away, I was relieved to discover that this sweet little boy 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. They reluctantly took him in, but  I was asked to sign a waiver which meant I would not receive updates on his recovery. Although I'd never know the end of his story, I was thankful they were willing to provide care and that 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. 

That sweet little kitten had come in and out of my life for a reason which 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.  

I couldn't help but be reminded of that little kitten so there I was placing its limp body in an emptied out fabric tool bin. I returned to my car, turned on the air conditioning, placed a few drops of water in the bag, and drove to a veterinary hospital a few miles away.

Sadly, I didn't receive the same kindness as I did with the kitten all those years ago, but a vet client nearby came over and peered inside the bag as I was telling my story... "You are such a kind person to do this." Although hospital staff members were unwilling to help in any way, I was thankful for the kind woman who felt compassion for my desire to help. 

I returned to my car deflated by the experience, only to notice something absolutely 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 him on the ground. I was mesmerized by his natural instincts for survival. I watched and waited with patience, until it was enveloped by the tall grass and had disappeared from sight. I wasn't sure what the odds were of survival but, no matter what happened, this location was more dignified than a steaming parking lot on a sweltering summer afternoon. This little one 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. 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, I'm grateful for a heart big enough to have helped these little ones.  


  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!

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

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


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