Monday, July 11, 2022

A BREATH’S BLESSING – My Intimate Encounter With a Dying Baby Squirrel

A heartbreaking little drama played out this afternoon while I was walking along the beautiful, peaceful trail that flanks the Mississippi River just below our house.

Right in the middle of the asphalt path, right where people walk and ride bikes, lay a little pink lump not much bigger than my thumb. As I got closer I saw that it was a baby squirrel. It must have been just days old, since its eyes looked as if they’d not yet opened. 

I saw no sign of injury, but its bare skin looked to be a bit sunburned. My first thought was, the poor thing, it might well have succumbed to the heat of that searing pavement.

And then it moved. At first it was barely noticeable, but its precious little feet and tail were definitely moving. Oh, my God, I thought, it’s still alive!

     I prayed somehow my intervention, my touch,
     might be a vehicle for Creation’s mercy.

A shot of adrenaline coursed through me as my thoughts turned from finding a decent resting place for the kit, to actually saving its life. First, I had to get it out of the sun and see if it would take some water.

I listened for any sound of an agitated squirrel parent from the adjacent woods. (I didn’t want to be one of those well-meaning folks who might intervene when it’s not necessary.) Not a peep.

So I wrapped the little thing in a grape leaf and hurried down to the river’s edge. As I did so, I prayed somehow my intervention, my touch, might be a vehicle for Creation’s mercy. Please, please let it live!

Dipping a small stick in the river, I was able to transfer a few drops of water to the tiny animal’s partially open mouth. But there was no reaction.

In fact, now there was no more movement at all. The sweet little creature had died in my hand. I stroked its soft, wrinkled side, hoping it might respond.

I sat down on a log and wept, fully present with that precious departed soul. I was grateful to have made its acquaintance, and hoped I’d offered some small recognition of its life.

There was just one thing left to do. I made a sheltered little bower on the forest floor and lay the sweet baby to rest, its last fleeting breaths having blessed me in ways I’ll not soon forget.