I am blessed to live at the edge of the forest, I really am. Except for sometimes. Ninety-eight percent of the time I love seeing the wild critters just outside my door ...fox, squirrels, deer, opossum, rabbits, turkey, chipmunks, coyote, raccoons...lots of songbirds and an occasional bird of prey, too. I take a lot of joy in our entertaining neck-o-the-woods.
Two percent of the time, however, like today... well, I am forced to face my nemesis: Fear.
It’s just this: outside of my door, the critters are cute, inside my door, they somehow become my enemy and greatest concern. I’m not sure why this is...why I lose all rational thought and can hardly function. You’d think after living here for 8 years, I’d be over it. I’m not.
This morning it seems Mr. O’Malley caught a mouse in our basement and brought it upstairs for sport. We were in our normal hustle and bustle heading out the door for the ride to school and so, I didn’t take notice of the cat’s antics ~ even though wee one said “Mr. O’Malley is pawing at the carpet in a funny way”
I arrived back home to find the cat & dog sitting together in the den, making curious faces at the basket near the bottom step. Upon closer investigation I spot the mouse, trapped - or hiding- behind the basket. I feel the blood drain from my face...
From 7:30 am until 12:30 pm the mouse remained in the same spot. The cat had lost interest and I was trying to figure out how to remove it. Silly, I know. I have no strength in this area...this is a “hubby job” only he’s not going to be home for 6 more hours and I have work to do. And I can’t get my work done until this critter is OUT.
I pray: “Lord, help me not to be such a weak vessel... please give me the strength to move this dead mouse outside”. I am such a coward.
I find the broom and a large box to scoop him into and ...what do you know.... when I move the basket to get at him, he AWAKES. He gathers himself and ambles behind my little bookcase. I freak, calling Mr. O’Malley to PLEASE come and finish the job! “Lord, have mercy!” I cannot believe I am paralyzed by a mouse.
I grab a flashlight and shine it into the dark crevasse behind the bookcase. There he is, sitting in a pile of dog hair and dust, seemingly resigned to his fate. Curiously, my thoughts went to St. Ciaran and his affinity with animals.. a prayer went up and then a strange thing happened -
As I maneuvered the little bookcase out of the way, the mouse didn’t move. He sat there .. so small. He could easily fit into my cupped hand. His ears were laying against his head, little eyes staring forward, feet tucked up under his body. My heart & mind transformed... I had not fear and anxiety, but pity.
I put the dog & cat out of the room, grabbed my box, bent down and said - out loud- to the mouse, “If you’ll just help me and go into this box, I’ll take you outside; I’m sure you’ll be much happier out there.”
Calmly, I carried him outside to the St. Francis garden at the far end of the yard. I knelt down and to my surprise, instead of scurrying, the little fellow walked out and I could see the scratch on his leg the cat had made. I think he’ll be ok. He settled into the clover, turned a bit into a semicircle, as if readying himself for a nap. And, then, as I watched him, he looked up at me - I kid you not, the little guy looked up at me as if to say, ‘thanks’.
Wonders never cease.
*That is Mr. O'Malley at top; the cute field mouse is not my photo, it was found here.