On the Saturday before Mothers’ Day, I went to the Wildlife Center to see if I could round up some volunteers to staff the clinic so Sabrina would have a never-before-heard-of day off.
Most of our volunteers are women, and an amazing proportion of them are or have mothers; so, no luck. I showed up early Sunday morning so Sabrina could sleep in. I figured I and the few volunteers present could get through the morning chores and I could still get to church.
It was not to be…
As I was about to leave, a lady arrived with a nearly dead baby groundhog. She had found him motionless on her lawn that same morning. He was dripping wet, comatose, and as cold as ever a barely-alive being has ever been. He was so young – five weeks old- and so small – he easily fit in my hand.
I set about what seemed to be a hopeless task: trying to resuscitate this little one. Not only was he severely hypothermic, but dehydrated with a cat wound on his flank. He was covered with fleas; his wound crawled with maggots.
So I set to work, drying, warming, and stimulating. Then comb him free of his infestations, then sub-cutaneous fluids. Two hours; a lot of activity; many prayers for intervention.
I shall never know why certain of these little ones summon my heart and my spirit as they do; but clearly and without warning this became my sole and proper task, for this little one was ‘in my path.’ That I was supposed to be there – and nowhere else – could not have been more clear to me. For those two hours, he was the length and breadth of my universe. My entire existence shrank to the size of one desperately sick baby groundhog; there was nothing else above, below or beside. Also, there was this: Although frustratingly hard to explain, it seemed I was part of a harmony, a resonance with something which, odd to say, was inside me, yet beyond. I truly was taken to a plane so deep in me I wonder if I had left… me. It’s a wonderful, frightening [will he die?], transcendent place to be; there, all around you stands motionless.
Today he is thriving; re-united in a large cage with his two siblings. He chucks happily whenever he sees me. ‘Chucking’ is groundhog vernacular for ‘G’Day, Lucky! Grand to see you, old chap!’ Of course his two littermates also chuck although they don’t know me from Adam’s Woodchuck.
The minister who was to have guided our group’s discussion that Sunday is Stuart Revercomb. He is a truly spiritual man who is tolerant of the trudging steps of my religious skepticism. His wisdom bestows upon him the patience to give me the time I need to find my own. Lately, he has been trying to acquaint me with the concept of ‘The Holy Spirit.’ I expect he’ll have something to say about this intersection of paths, this little ground hog and me. Thinking about it, Stuart may well be right.
So, I missed church last Sunday, but I did not miss, it seems, Communion.