"A sacred being cannot be anticipated; it must be encountered."
We have had a strange winter visitor in our backyard. Last week my husband called me to the sliding glass doors that lead to our deck. Standing there looking back at me was an opossum. The creature stood just feet away acting dazed and confused. For some reason instead of being repelled by this less than beautiful being, my heart broke.
Why was a nocturnal, hibernating animal walking around in broad daylight on a winter's day? All afternoon we followed its progress from deck to snowy yard. Once on the frozen ground under our black walnut tree, it ate the left over bird seed that had been knocked to the ground. Two of the neighborhood children and I watched as it climbed a tree resting in the branches for some time, tired from either lack of sleep or too much. The only reason we could come up with for its presence was the warmer temperatures. It may have somehow been awakened prematurely. Its stunned and slow movements could have pointed to its being ill but I wanted to go with the warmer weather theory. The idea of having a sick, perhaps rabid, wild animal so close was a thought I did not want to entertain.
My heartbreak over this creature is that it brought to my consciousness all the other beings who find themselves misplaced, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Immigrants, wanderers made homeless by war, disaster, or a spiral of bad luck events like those we witness on the nightly news, those we read about in the morning newspaper. The opossum's eyes had that same dazed and confused look seen in those of people I pass on the street holding signs that read:"Mother needs money to buy milk" or " Veteran, please help." People displaced, confused, lost most often through no fault of their own.
This opossum no doubt lives under our deck and may have been there for longer than we know. And yet I had never encountered it before. It had been a silent part of our lives and yet I could not have anticipated how this wild creature helped me see once again the sacred nature of all Creation. Its eyes met mine and my heart was filled with compassion. Through this unexpected encounter I was reminded that the One who moves in the deepest winters and the abundance of spring cares for the least, the lost and the lonely. I am grateful for the reminder.
Have a blessed and warm weekend……………………..